Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Baby's First Christmas

Here are a few of our favorite memories from Caleb's first Christmas:
(By the way, we're trying a new picture format, for larger views, click on the individual pictures)

~ Two visits to and one visit from Santa Claus

~ Eating the most expensive Ham we've ever bought (no such thing as honey-baked ham in Peru, or for that matter, the lesser cousins of the honey-baked), but worth every penny (See the ham?)

~ Being able to talk to friends and family in Utah, Japan, Washington, DC, Singapore, California, Georgia, Mexico

~ Panettone (look for a future post dedicated to this insanity)

~ Caleb turning around in circles too excited to take in all the toys and books on Christmas morning (Someone was very nice this year!)

~ Celebrating Christmas with good friends and being grateful for a roof over our heads, food in our tummies and love in our hearts

~ Caroling in English and Spanish

~ The rockinghorse under the tree that we (Santa) bought in Amish country -- sitting under the Christmas tree with a red ribbon around its neck was so Norman Rockwell we're a little embarassed

~ The Peruvian market where we bought our Christmas tree -- sorry we don't have a picture of this, it would not have been wise to take a camera there

~ Santa bringing sour candy (none to be had in Peru and some of us are addicted!), pop-tarts, reese's peanut butter cup cereal, spaghettiOs and A&W Root Beer (we're so American)

~ Our new advent calendar, it took us three years to find and we love it

~ And last, but certainly not least, Christmas night in the emergency room -- after weeks of putting everything in sight in his mouth, Caleb finally managed to swallow a coin, after several scary minutes, 3 X-Rays and an endoscopy, the 5 centavo piece was removed.

Even without the hospital visit, this would have been a memorable Christmas, but now it is one we'll never forget!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Merry Christmas from Peru

Dear Ones,

We would not have thought it possible that life could change so much in just 12 months. This time last year, we were living happily in Washington, DC, surrounded by our good friends, frequenting our favorite restaurants, visiting our favorite sites in and around DC and enjoying a lovely Christmas with each other, 4 couples and their children. How times have changed! This year we are still living happily, but in Lima, Peru, surrounded by many new acquaintances, establishing new favorite eateries and sometimes wishing for our old favorites, becoming familiar with this city of 12 million people, and enjoying Christmas with a new couple, their children, several LDS missionaries and, most surprisingly of all, our child.

Caleb was born in January, weighing in at 7 lbs. 6 oz and with a height of 20 inches. We have enjoyed every moment (even the sleepless ones) with Caleb since he joined our family. He is a very mellow and generally happy child. He sleeps through the night, usually 10 - 11 hours, drinks from a cup and has graduated to “grown-up” food. We have been asked time and again what we did or are doing to produce such a happy child. All we can say is that he came the way he is and we are extremely grateful. We have taken more pictures of Caleb in the last 10 months than either of us had taken previously...ever. As you parents can attest, nearly everything he does is new and amazing and definitely worthy of recording. He is crawling now and into absolutely everything he shouldn't be. Despite the mountains of toys we own (he is the first grandchild on both sides so this is to be expected) his favorite things to play with are remote controls, cell phones, outlets, plugs and all manner of cords, ribbons and shoelaces. We do not anticipate that he will be an only child forever, but for now the sun rises and sets in him and we are most decidedly in love.

Choosing the ornament for the advent calendar

After one failed attempt and a second year-long application process, in April of this year we learned that Kenny had been offered a job with the United States Department of State in the Foreign Service. He was only too happy to leave his job with EDS and accept the position. He was immediately plunged into a series of training courses culminating in his (our) being assigned to Lima, Peru, in September. He then began a refresher course in Spanish, having learned the language while serving an LDS mission in Mexico several years before.

We prepared for our move to Peru by:
1) Attending several seminars on life overseas and life in the Foreign Service
2) Quitting our jobs - After 5 years, Linsey was sad to leave her colleagues at Greenberg Traurig, but thrilled with the prospect of being a full-time mom
3) Scouring the Internet and travel books for as much information on
Peru as possible
4) Making what seemed like a thousand lists of things to buy and get rid of and put in storage and sell (mainly our car, we were very sad to leave it behind, and very grateful to our friends Matt and Cassidy for handling the details)
5) Making plans to visit Utah to spend time with grandparents before we took the only grandchild 3000 miles away and to attend Linsey's brother Lyman's wedding (to Kelli, what a great addition to the family)
6) Sending cases of diapers, formula and myriad other baby and, remarkably, a few non-baby things to ourselves in Peru
7) Taking a family picture with Linsey's family -- the whole family was together for the first time in 4 years, an event worth commemorating
8) Being released from our Church callings (Kenny as 2nd Counselor in the Bishopric and Linsey as Relief Society President) -- Kenny has since been called as Young Men's President in our ward in Lima and Linsey, for the first time in a very long time, is without a calling (once her Spanish improves, we are certain this will change)
9) Making final visits to sites and restaurants (clearly we are obsessed with food) in DC that have special meaning for us
10) Saying goodbye to our life and our friends in DC -- we were especially sad to leave George and Teresa (our landlords and Caleb's godparents) whom we dearly love, but happy that a job with the Foreign Service will mean many future opportunities to visit Washington, DC

He knows the tree is off limits but he just can't resist the lights

We have been in Lima now for just over 3 months. It is a massive city, typical of most large cities, with many lovely parts and many not so lovely. There is a lot of petty crime here, but so far we have managed to avoid this. We live in a part of town called San Isidro that is known as the business district of Lima. True to form, there are many businesses here, but also many quiet and safe neighborhoods with parks, corner cafes, schools, churches, and most importantly, because most neighborhoods are lacking them, sidewalks. Lima is known for its fabulous and cheap food and we can verify that the reputation is well deserved. In particular, not surprisingly, the ceviche is spectacular.

Kenny works in the Political section at the Embassy and finds his work both challenging and fulfilling. Linsey is adjusting to being a stay-at-home mom and loves spending time with Caleb. She is taking Spanish lessons and Kenny says improving daily. We are looking forward to our first Christmas with Caleb and are loving the fact that our house in Lima has a fireplace and thus a mantel where we can hang our stockings...with care, of course.

I love Christmas!

As we come to close of 2006, we find ourselves in a much different place in our lives than we expected, but are happy and thriving. We are very grateful for the blessings of health and security that we enjoy. We have wonderful and supportive family and friends and especially a loving Heavenly Father. We miss you all and invite you to come visit us here in Peru or anywhere else we happen to be. Know that you are always in our hearts and in our prayers and certainly now as we celebrate Christmas.

May God bless each of you.

Kenny, Linsey and Caleb

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Up the Stairs...'er Stair

Today I learned to climb stairs. Okay, so it was actually one stair, but I've only been crawling for a month now, so one stair is a pretty big deal.

The object of conquest...

...and, we're up...

...first leg,

and now the other...

the stair has been conquered!!

Triumphant pose for the camera (and, yes, that is the bidet I am using for support, but no one ever said glory was always glamorous)!

Monday, December 11, 2006

To Market, To Market

Recently we needed to purchase a few Christmas presents and some things for the house. We had special ordered a couple of things for Christmas and when we went to pick them up passed by a mercado (market). These mercados are everywhere in Peru and all over Lima. There are both indoor and outdoor and are characterized by row upon row of various stalls selling just about anything imaginable. There are a couple of massives mercados in Central Lima that we have visited a few times, but there are a lot of safety concerns with these places so we don't go all that often, at least not with Caleb -- he's too much of a distraction and an easy target since he kind of sticks out. This market however, was much smaller and seemed completely manageable.

Our shopping list was as follows:

Something to put the toilet paper in in the guest bathroom
Something decorative for the other guest bathroom
Something for Mom
dish drain
can opener (ours rusted on the boat from Miami)
garbage bags (you can only buy them in packages of 10 so we buy these often)
stocking stuffers for Caleb
ironing board

Not surprisingly, we found everything on our list at this mercado. They are like Peruvian Wal-Marts, one stop shopping for all your holiday and everyday needs. We choose not to purchase the iron there in case it didn't work and we needed to return it, but otherwise got everything else. In addition, we could have bought fruit, vegetables, meat, shoes, clothes, candy (both pre-packaged and in bulk), nuts, grains, spices, plastic and styrofoam containers in every conceivable shape and size, electronics, pirated DVDs (at this point, I really have no idea where to buy non-pirated DVDs -- not having a Best Buy here has really curbed our acquisition of movies), toys, jewelry, personal care products etc. And, despite being chastised up and down every aisle for not dressing Caleb warmly enough (notice below he is not wearing shoes, or socks, or a hat, or a coat, or a snowsuit -- we actually saw babies in this market wearing snowsuits) it was a very successful outing.

Notice the potatoes, there were probably over 20 varieties available

Next time we'll have to buy one of those tuxedos for Caleb

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Not All Baby Boys Look Good in Blue

December 8th was a Peruvian, actually Catholic, holiday - The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception -- established in 1476 and consecrated in 1942 as a Roman Catholic dogma which asserts that Mary was preserved by God from the stain of original sin at the time of her own conception (thank you wikipedia). Being in the foreign service means we get to celebrate all American and all local holidays, so Kenny had the day off and we decided to venture into the Central Highlands of Peru.

Upon a recommendation from friends we made reservations at a working farm in a place called Tarma, about 4 to 5 hours by car from Lima. To get to Tarma we would be driving up, high, really high, into the mountains and then down the other side. Tarma sits at about 10,000 feet (Lima is at sea level) and the summit we would reach on our trip was nearly 14,500 feet (passing through the town of Cerro de Pasco (14,212 feet) a town of about 30,000 and the world's highest town of its size). Needless to say, we were going to be VERY high.

Earlier this year Kenny took a trip to Quito, Ecuador, (altitude 9,252 feet) and had to take medication to counteract the effects of the altitude. At one point during his trip, he decided to take a "walk" up a glacier and at nearly 13,000 feet ran out of energy and oxygen and had to turn back. As for me, in high school I took a planetary science course through the University of Hawaii which included a trip to the telescopes on the top of Mauna Kea (13,796 feet above sea level -- just for interest's sake, some argue that Mauna Kea is in fact the world's tallest mountain because it rises 33,000 feet from the ocean floor and Everest's height is 29,000 feet) and I can recall feeling light-headed and having trouble breathing. With these experiences in mind and knowing that we would be bringing Caleb on this trek we started doing some research on babies and high altitude. Frankly, there is not much available. We discovered that up to 12,000 feet most "experts" agree that babies should be just fine. And above that, we wondered? Well, the general consensus is that is depends on the baby. Everything we read said to watch the baby closely, look for signs of lethargy, discomfort and trauma and should they appear act swiftly and get your baby to the nearest emergency room if improvement is not immediate. Armed with this information and with our friend Kristy along for the adventure, we began our trip -- we never reached Tarma. Somewhere around 13,500 feet Caleb started to cry. He was pulling at his ears (I'm sure they were/or weren't popping) and waving his hands about and demonstrating obvious signs of pain. Shortly thereafter he stopped crying, his eyes lost focus and his skin took on a decidedly blue cast. We immediately pulled over turned around and raced down the mountain as quickly as possible. The road to Tarma is a two lane almost highway that climbs quickly and steeply up the Andes mountains. It is one of only a handful of roads carved into these spectacular and enormous mountains and is heavily used by large semi trucks and tour buses. Our progress up the mountain had been slow and plodding and our progress down was impeded as well. We spent several very quiet, very nervous moments in the car after we turned around watching Caleb closely. Thankfully, Caleb's recovery was immediate and total. The pictures below were taken after we returned to Lima at a delightful Pizza place very near our house -- it was the longest and scariest trip we've ever made for pizza.

Caleb and Kenny with our friend Kristy

The brick ovens, the pizza was delicious

Safe and sound!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad...Santa?

Santa Claus came to the Ambassador's residence to have pictures taken and to find out what the children wanted for Christmas. Santa was Canadian and caucasian (as you can see in the pictures). We also have plans to take Caleb to see Santa at Jockey Plaza (a very large mall in Lima where they have constructed Santa's village complete with workshop and elves quarters), but we are told that as you get closer to Christmas Jockey Plaza becomes so busy that it is almost scary, so we'll see. Santa Claus at Jockey Plaza is Peruvian and Latin and we think it would be great for Caleb to have pictures with Santa as he changes ethnicity depending upon the locale.

As you can see from the pictures Caleb was not exactly thrilled to meet Santa. Both of these shots were captured just before his quizzical look turned to a frown and he started to cry. We aren't sure if it was Santa he was actually afraid of, or the speaker that was just out of the picture to the left which started loudly playing some Christmas carol while Caleb was sitting with Santa, or the 20 or so people yelling at him to look at the camera and smile. Regardless of the cause, meeting Santa was not the most fun he has ever had, but we're sure one day he'll be grateful we dragged him there.

Notice the short will probably be 80 degrees in Lima on Christmas Day.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

It's True, Her Hips Don't Lie

Last night we went to the Shakira concert to celebrate Kenny's 30th birthday and, apparently, unbeknowst to me, to fulfil a decade long dream. Apparently, while Kenny was on his mission in Mexico, Shakira, who is from Columbia, came out with one of her early albums and quickly catapulted to stardom and fame in South America. Despite limited access to television and other forms of media, Kenny couldn't help but be caught up in the swirl of Shakira worship even while toiling in the vineyard. Thus began his dreams of seeing Shakira live in concert. And, though I was unaware of the dream, I was aware of his need to be Shakira's champion in light of what he believes to be the systematic perpetration of heinous falsehoods by music producers, promoters, consumers etc. in America with regard to her talent and her place in the music world. Despite the fact that she is often marketed as an ingenue and frequently lumped into the same category as Britney or Jessica or others of that ilk, Kenny is always quick to point out that "she is actually talented," "she writes all her own lyrics and music," "she didn't want to record in English until she could speak the language well enough to write her own stuff," "she is not run of the mill" etc. etc. etc. And, last night, I have to say, that in spite of the fact that I'm not certain of the meaning of most of her songs, and though I am not a total convert to the way she sings (she has Celine Dion's power, Mariah Carey's range, and sounds a bit like the lead singer of the Cranberries), the woman really is very talented. She has clearly had years of dance and in particular her belly dancing prowess is phenomenal. Her songs are varied and musically interesting and despite her penchant for doing a 21st century version of the robocop several times during the evening, she puts on a great show.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I'm a Big Boy Now

Hey everyone, look at all the things I can do...

Sit in the bath tub by myself;

Call my friends;


Pose for the camera;

Drink from a water bottle;

Reach the mobile in my crib;

Give kisses;

And most importantly, I can CRAWL, watch out Mom!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thanksgiving Lima Style

Things we're thankful for:

1) Health (all of us, especially Caleb are in very good health)

2) Our house in Lima -- so nice to have more than 2 rooms, a roof over our heads, and a bedroom just for Caleb

3) Aurora -- she washed ALL the Thanksgiving dishes, I have never been more grateful for her!

4) Our faith

5) Our families

6) Our talents

7) Living abroad with the State Department as a safety net -- it is much easier to be overseas when you don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we need something

and, in that vein 8) Being able to receive things through the diplomatic pouch -- dealing with the Peruvian mail system is less than pleasant -- you cannot send mail from your home here!

9) The usual food to eat, clothes to wear, money to spend -- real luxuries and really obvious in this third world country

10) Insurance (car, health, dental etc.)

11) The Internet -- our lifeline in so many ways

12) Skype -- couldn't live without it

13) 12 place settings that match - though we ended up with 13 guests for Thanksgiving (14 if you count Caleb)

14) The opportunities living in Lima has and will bring

15) All of you dear friends -- we are particularly mindful of how much we appreciate our friends as we work to make knew ones

Happy Thanksgiving!

Caleb's first Thanksgiving - that's turkey and a roll on his high chair tray

Thanksgiving with the Missionaries, Erika, Paul, Kristy, Paola and Emily

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Happy Halloween Little Bald Pumpkin

Something we discovered when we took Caleb to Buenos Aires earlier this year was that Latins LOVE, LOVE, LOVE babies, especially little gringo babies. And, Caleb with his fair skin, light hair, and very blue eyes tends to stand out among Latins, especially in Peru where the post-war European influence isn't as prevalent as it is in Argentina. Everywhere we go (literally everywhere, church, the grocery store -- it takes twice as long to buy groceries, the hardware store, any sidewalk or cafe or, well you get the idea) people stop, or rather stop us, to admire and go a little nuts over Caleb, often taking him from our arms or the stroller -- and of course we have tried to teach our child not be a mama's boy so he happily goes to every perfect stranger who extends their hands toward him -- we're going to have to work on that! Consequently, the words I know best in Spanish are (as you are reading these, think about Peruvian men, women and children saying these things as if there were describing the most delicious food they had ever tasted): muneco (little doll); que lindo (so cute); que prescioso (so precious); sus ojos son muy azul (his eyes are so blue); que bonito (so beautiful); and my personal favorite...ahh peloncito (little bald one). And while these are lovely words, they are not as helpful at the market or the drugstore as you might think, well, in fact they are just as helpful as you might think, i.e. not!

Since this was Caleb's first Halloween (note, you will see many posts from here on out talking about "firsts" for Caleb - he is nine months old, that's the way it is), I wanted to be sure that we celebrated it properly with a cute costume, lots of pictures and plenty of candy. Okay, so even though he did the trick-or-treating (sort of), the candy was really for the grown-ups and we couldn't let it go to waste. Obviously we have to savor access to his candy now before he is old enough to understand why people are giving it to him and that it really does taste better than the pureed sweet potatoes and peas that he is used to having for "dessert" and then refuses to share with Mommy and Daddy ever again.

Our Table

The Embassy in Peru, and I suspect everywhere else in the world, has an annual Halloween party to which all children of all employees are invited. The theme for our party in Lima was a Halloween carnival and several announcements were sent in advance about each section being responsible for a table and a game at the carnival. Thinking this would be a good way to meet some people and get involved, I mentioned to Kenny that I would be happy to help with his section's game. Next thing I know, his boss is thanking me for handling the game and all the accompanying Despite limited resources and time (thank goodness for Oriental Trading Company) we put together a fairly decent Halloween themed bean bag toss (no shortage of beans on this continent) complete with sparkly orange bean bags and lots of candy to distribute to the trick-or-treaters. I had purchased Caleb's Halloween costume (a pumpkin of course -- isn't is required that every baby dress as a pumpkin for their first Halloween?) before we left for Peru and packed it in our things so we would have it even if (read since) our slow boat stuff didn't arrive in time. And while he did not enjoy Mommy shouting hooray each time we had a winner at the bean bag toss, he looked terrific, collected a fair amount of candy and compliments and had, I think, an extremely successful Halloween experience. Now to my list of already useful Spanish words I have added: calabasito -- little pumpkin. Happy Halloween Little Bald Pumpkin!

The Little Bald Pumpkin

The Pumpkin and Daddy

Friday, October 13, 2006

Salvation, Thy names are Aurora and Paola

Before we came to Lima, we were told by some other Foreign Service folks who had previously been posted to Peru that we would definitely need to hire a maid (empleada) when we arrived because our floors would need to be swept and mopped every day. At the time I thought this was utterly ridiculous, but after weeks of being in Lima I have discovered that this is in fact the reality. Lima has a very curious climate. Though situated on the eastern coast of the Pacific ocean and near enough to the equator that the temperature is fairly mild year-round, because of the Humboldt Current that runs south to north and the weather that drifts down from the Andes Mountains in the opposite direction there is a perpetual mist in the air but, it NEVER rains. The mist keeps the air very humid and helps to maintain the mostly tropical climate, but the lack of rain means that there is a fair amount of dust in the air that apparently has nowhere to go but my floors -- especially the aforementioned white kitchen floor. After several weeks of daily hands and knees cleaning, we decided that the advice we were given was on the level and subsequently hired our own empleada, Aurora.

At first, it was a little odd having another person living in the house (she has a room and bathroom off the kitchen and stays with us Monday through Friday). However, we quickly got used to the dinners, the laundry being washed, folded and put away, never washing dishes, and most especially, the end of scrubbing the kitchen floor. Aurora speaks almost no English, although arguably more English than I speak Spanish so during the day with Kenny at work and my using to get my point across you can imagine that our days are fairly quiet. Mostly I just smile, nod and say "Si" a lot. Who knows what I am agreeing to, but so far things are working well. She is very thorough and while not hired to watch Caleb, she loves him and is always happy to play with him or watch him if I need to run errands or when I have Spanish classes. She likes to cook and we have had some very good typical Peruvian dishes since she started with us. She keeps flipping through the one cookbook I brought with us, but since she can't speak/read English it is not much use to her. So, we have ordered some cookbooks in Spanish so she and I can experiment. She has only been with us a little while, but already we have gotten used to her and she is quickly becoming part of the family.

Caleb and Aurora in the entryway of the house

Which brings me to my other savior, Paola, the Spanish teacher. Shockingly enough, my one year of high school Spanish has not made me fluent. Frankly, at this point, fluency is not the goal, just being able to do more than point and make odd, not even English, sounds would be great. I feel like a deaf mute most of the time especially since the only person who really understands me is Caleb and let's be honest, how much does an 8 month old really grasp of language anyway? Luckily, we now have the Internet and Cable so I can at least get some news and television in English (the first few days without these were TORTURE!).

Paola the linguist

Paola is a linguist by education and speaks Spanish, French, English and has studied German and Italian. She teaches at the Catholic University of Lima and works freelance as a Spanish teacher. She comes to the house every day for 2 hours and says my Spanish is improving. And, I think she is right. I still feel like a mute, but at least now I can sort of understand what people are saying to me...not always...still a fair amount of smiling and nodding going on, but things are definitely better. The worst part of it is that without the language, I have given up a lot of my independence and while I am slowly regaining it, I am impatient and tired of having to defer to Kenny on everything. To his credit, he is very good at talking "for me" but, well, it goes without saying that I prefer to talk for myself. But, I am committed to learning the language and with Paola's help I am making great strides.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The House

Our first night in Lima we walked around our house several times taking in the size and newness of it all. Coming from a one-bedroom apartment (well sort of since we took over much of George and Teresa's space) to a 4 bedroom house with formal living and dining rooms and a maid's quarters, not to mention the foyer was a bit surreal. And, since nothing in the house belongs to us, we feel a little displaced, but I'm sure that will change when our things start arriving and we get settled in.

Foyer - Behind the Spanish gates is the Dining Room and working fireplace

There is wood and marble everywhere, but very little carpet so it is not the most baby friendly environment. The family room/additional guest bedroom (because if one is good then 2 or 3 is definitely better) is carpeted as is the third guest room which has now become Caleb's room. As much as I love hardwood, I don't want him taking a nosedive onto hard floors before our area rugs arrive. In reality, there is nothing under the carpeting that even remotely suggests padding, but we are working with what we have, thus Caleb will stay put. And, as Kenny has mentioned a few times in jest (though perhaps not...?) it is just mere coincidence that this room is on the opposite side of the house from the master bedroom. As a result, Caleb has gone from rooming with us to being as far away from us as possible. Luckily the marble, wood, lack of furnishings and 14 foot ceilings mean the entire house is one massive echo chamber eliminating any need for a baby monitor.

Caleb's room and bathroom to the left (yes, he has his own bathroom)

The antique mirror in the foyer is a nice touch left here by the landlord since he didn't have anywhere else to put it and didn't want to put it in storage. The mirror is easily 5 feet high and several feet wide and occupies a wall that we certainly couldn't have filled with anything in our current collection of decorative items so it is just as well that he didn't take it with him.

Isn't it lovely?

The kitchen is HUGE and apart from the WHITE flooring (it always looks dirty) very nice.

Kitchen - luckily the quality of this photo obscures the everpresent dirt on the floor

We have a small yard, with several plants and a working fountain. We will need to employ a gardener eventually as my plant skills are not what I'd like them to be (okay, I really have no desire to cultivate plant skills, and what I do have is pretty pathetic and the plants really shouldn't suffer) though all the time I spent "watching" Teresa in the yard is helping for the moment as so far we have managed to keep everything alive.

The Yard (or at least part of it and obviously not the part with the fountain)

We are very happy with our new home and expect that we will continue to be so over the course of our 2 or so years in Lima. At present, besides our things that are currently in Miami waiting for a ride to Lima, all we lack is visitors. I'd include a picture of the guest bedroom to entice you, but I'm afraid it might have the opposite effect since our other bed is in Miami too...but make your plans now and perhaps you and the bed will arrive at the same time?!


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