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.


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