Saturday, February 21, 2009

Part 1:Utah

Today is my birthday and as a present to myself, I am finally updating the blog. (Did you notice that sly shout out to me?!?!) As I'm sure you've noticed, if you're still reading us, it appears we have done next to nothing over the last 2 months. But, such is not the case and this post begins a series of updates from our recent past. A disclaimer up front, these are posterity posts and may be less than interesting to 97% of our readership.

We enjoyed 2 fun-filled weeks in Utah during December. It was a whirlwind visit, as ours so often are, but we packed in a ton of fun, seemingly endless visits to family and friends and plenty of blogbook fodder.

Our first night we enjoyed my Mom's last concert performance as a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. My Dad retired from the choir last year and my Mom last month so I no longer have a parent who sings with the Mo-Tab. They both had great experiences with the choir and it was always fun to pick them out during LDS Church General Conference broadcasts.
Next on the agenda was a ride on the Polar Express, okay so it's the Heber Creeper all dolled up to look like the real deal, but Caleb and Kenny had great fun! Passengers are encouraged to wear their pajamas (sorry, way to cold for that), everyone is served hot chocolate and they sing and read the story on their way to the North Pole to pick up Santa Claus.

Then we took a quick road trip to Roosevelt, UT, for the boys to visit Great-Grandma and Great-Grandpa. Driving conditions on the way back were fairly treacherous, but we made it home in one piece and it was a good visit -- especially for Isaac who had never met his only living Great-Grandpa.
A highlight of the trip was our visit to the Salt Lake Children's Museum. If you live in UT (anywhere near SLC) and have kids, this is not to be missed. Even our boys, both under 3 at the time, really enjoyed the exhibits and could have stayed all day if hunger and fatigue hadn't prevented them.

In the midst of all the fun, we also closed on the purchase of our first home. It is in Austin, TX, and we just had renters move in this week (hurrah!). It is in a wonderful, family-friendly neighborhood, close to great schools, shopping and the major artery leading into downtown Austin. We bought the house without ever seeing it, but had the world's greatest realtor and when we went to visit it finally a couple of weeks after closing, were delighted with our first home. We were in Texas just long enough to open a bank account, apply for driver's licenses, power wash the house, do some yard work and catch a sunset from our "new" backyard.

We had lots of snow while in Utah and Caleb definitely got his fill. He made a snowman, well sort of, out of just what had fallen on my parents' upstairs deck. We made the mouth out of licorice and had to keep replacing it as it melted away from the cold and liquid of the snow.
Christmas Eve and the wee hours of Christmas morning were spent in the Emergency Room at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center (this is our second Christmas since becoming parents that we have spent in the ER -- the fact that we have only been parents through three Christmases suggests we don't have a great track record), because Isaac was severely dehydrated and needed some perking up. Christmas morning was slightly subdued as a result, but there was still plenty of merriment and the boys ended up with quite a haul. Caleb enjoyed handing out the gifts probably even more than opening his own. The youngest mobile person in the family passes out the gifts on Christmas morning, and Lyman, my youngest sibling, was only too happy to relinquish the honor that has been his for the last 20 years.

We shopped and ate (and ate and ate and ate) and played and sang and visited friends who were home from places far and wide from California to China. Isaac spent a lot of time working on his walking (a skill he has since mastered) and we made many, many visits to Costco sometimes for no other reason than hot dogs and berry smoothies. Next stop, Colorado.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

T.I.V. Tuesday

Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of Chavez's election as president of Venezuela. Accordingly, late Sunday afternoon, he declared Monday, Hugo Chavez Day, a national holiday closing all schools, government offices and many businesses. To commemorate the day, he took over the television and radio stations as well to address his devoted and not so devoted followers. While he spoke, the streets filled with pro and anti Chavistas banging pots and pans, setting off firecrackers and generally wreaking havoc in demonstration of their respective allegiances.

February 15 is a referendum in Venezuela to determine if the current law regarding term limits will stand. If the measure fails, Chavez will be out of office with no chance for re-election in 2012, but if it passes, he will likely die in office. At this point it is unclear what direction the vote will take, but the opposition is worried. In anticipation of this truly momentous event, there are daily protests in and around Caracas, usually violent, with tear gas used rampantly. The country is on the verge of economic and political collapse and the conventional wisdom is that regardless of the referendum's outcome things in Venezuela will go from bad to worse.

I have often wondered how a people allowed some of the world's most infamous leaders/dictators to become so powerful. Of course their rise didn't happen overnight and their ultimate objectives usually only became clear after it was too late. But, they all had to start somewhere and often with a peaceful and quiet ascension to power. The referendum on the 15th will not be a military coup or a violent government overthrow, it will be a simple vote for or against Chavez. Though the outcome remains uncertain, I fear we are on the verge of literally seeing history repeat itself here in Venezuela. Happy Hugo Chavez Day indeed.

PS I know the blog has been pretty political of late. Come back tomorrow and I promise to post much lighter fare and not mention Chavez or Obama or tear gas for a whole week at least.

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