Sunday, November 28, 2010

Ecuadorian Census

Today was the national census and I'll try to post some pics later on today but basically, everyone in Quito had to stay home from 7AM to 5PM for the Census. The streest were completely empty and it was eerily quiet in our neighborhood. All businesses were shut and no domestic flights took off or landed during those times. Here's the Embassy warden message that explains the basics of the Census Day.

Warden Message – U.S. Embassy, Quito, Ecuador

Travel Restrictions Related to Census Will Limit Movement in Country on November 28

November 23, 2010
The U.S. Embassy in Quito advises U.S. citizens living or traveling in Ecuador that travel will be limited in all urban areas because of the census, this Sunday, November 28. The Government of Ecuador, through the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC), has issued more complete regulations regarding census day. An “Immobility Law” will go into effect and states that everyone located in urban areas in Ecuador must stay in their homes or hotels from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. this Sunday, November 28, to take part in the census.
If you do need to travel that day, you will have to do so before 7:00 a.m. or after 5:00 p.m. U.S. citizen tourists traveling in Ecuador may wish to arrange to be in rural areas on November 28, as the travel restrictions do not appear to apply outside of urban areas. However, if you are located in an urban area, you will be required to take part in the census.
For the purposes of the census, urban areas are considered to be large cities as well as smaller cities and towns near them. Isolated villages in remote, rural areas (such as the Galapagos, Mindo, etc.) will be counted at a later date. For example, everyone in Quito and in the surrounding towns of Cumbaya, Tumbaco, Puembo, Pifo, Yaruqui, Papallacta and Machachi will take the census on Sunday the 28th.
The Government of Ecuador has released a more complete list of rules for tourists regarding census day. Be advised that this information is available only in Spanish. If you have specific questions, you may contact the ACS Section of the U.S. Embassy during our regular call-in hours.
Several important points:

On Sunday, November 28, no businesses will be open in urban areas, including restaurants and stores.

International flights will fly as scheduled, but domestic flights will not fly between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. If you already have a flight booked for that day, please check with your airline to ensure that it is flying as scheduled. Those flying during the day are being asked to be at the airport before 7:00 a.m. and stay at the airport until their flight leaves. The same for those arriving that day – they will be asked to stay at the airport until after 5:00 p.m. However, some airlines will have shuttles back and forth to hotels. Check with your airline to see if this service will be available to you.

There will only be limited taxi service available in the major cities and no interprovincial bus service after 4:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

In case of an emergency, tourists can call 101 if police are needed or 911 if there is a medical emergency and transportation to a hospital needs to be arranged.

As stores and restaurants will be closed, U.S. citizens should prepare in advance for basic needs, such as food and water. Some hotels may have food available for their clients; check with your specific hotel for more information. Furthermore, no alcohol will be sold in urban areas the entire weekend.
More updated information will be published as available at the INEC Census homepage.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fall update

Autumn has come to the US but the weather seems about the same here in Quito, although slightly warmer and more sunny of late. October is supposed to be the start of the rainy season but I think climate change has messed with that pattern. We love our house but like most houses here, it doesn't have central heating and is cold on the rainy/cloudy days.

So, what have we been up to? We've been back from R&R for just as long as I was gone. It was really wonderful to be back in the States which made us realize how much we miss Seattle and the ease and simplicity of life there. I think we'd be itching to go somewhere if we lived back in the States but I am feeling more and more like I'll be ready for a stateside tour in the next couple years.

We rented a small house on the north side of Seattle near NSCC and it was a great location and the perfect arrangement for my month in town. I stopped to see my folks in Baton Rouge and they had a great time seeing Lillian. Then Lillian and I spent a few days traveling around the Seattle area visiting friends & family and soaking in Seattle in the summer before the rental house opened up. Many thanks to the MacAleer/Berliner, Drury and Fontana families for their hospitality.

Traveling on my own with Lillian was a great reminder that I can get out and about with the baby. I think I get stuck in a rut here in Quito since Tristan and I share a car and I'm really bad with directions and therefore don't like driving here. Lillian was a trooper dealing well with nap disruptions and changing schedules and locations. We spent a good amount of time down at our Columbia City house redoing the front landscaping and contemplating a plumbing overhaul. I should have taken before and after pics, but I think it looks nice and Lillian and I had a nice time going to Swanson's Nursery and looking at all the pretty plants.

August also marked the end of the restrictive diet I'd started to try to rule out Lillian's food intolerances--I was down to chicken, turkey, pork and veggies with only onion and garlic as condiments. She started eating solids well and her GI issues subsided when she hit 6 months gestational. Our Seattle pediatrician wanted me to stay away from dairy & soy products until she was 9 or 10 months old, but I asked if I could at least have a croissant from Cafe Besalu (best cafe in Seattle!) and she said she couldn't deny me that. So, when Tristan arrived, I enjoyed my first bites of dairy since Easter and it was heaven! I'm back to eating almost everything except citrus and tomatoes which I think were the actual culprits in all this so life is looking up. As someone who truly enjoys food and enjoys life through cooking and dining out, this was a pretty depressing couple months.

first cereal. . .  not so sure

in it goes . . .

not sure about this, Mom.

aftermath of first carrots at Carl & Heather's.

We took Lillian on her first camping trip to Dungeness Spit State Park and went hiking in Olympic National Park. It was really nice to get out in the mountains in WA state and start to enjoy those things with her. She's sitting up and playing by herself and eating lots. Almost 18 pounds and 25.5 inches long as of her 9 month check-up. I think she grew at least 2 inches over the summer!

Pointing us toward the Lillian River

Hurricane Ridge (3rd time for me and the Mtns are finally out!)

Helping Daddy pick a hike

Look Mom, no hands! Getting the hang of sitting up.

We shopped, ate well (good cheese and beer which we miss in Ecuador) and generally enjoyed feeling safe. Street crime is such a huge issue here so I think in some ways we were intentionally enjoying not worrying about it--leaving the car unlocked, the stroller in the yard and walking wherever, whenever. I miss sidewalks too. It's hard to get out since I have to wheel the stroller in the street in Quito. We enjoyed lots of good walks and time outside in Seattle. All in all a great R&R and a good end to surviving 6 weeks as a single parent.

Oh, I should mention . . . Tristan did a month long TDY in Baku which was longer than initially planned. I don't plan on being a single parent like that again! Very lonely and hard but proved I could do it. My consolation prize was this beautiful Azeri-Persian rug. I've always wanted a proper rug, a very grown-up purchase!

The exciting news this month was the police protests (see previous posts) over wages and benefits. The state run media called it an anti-democratic action. Some said the US was involved which led to an interesting conversation with Senor Pacho who I buy organic veggies every week from at the La Floresta market. Super nice guy, educated in the states, active in organizing farmers, fluent English speaker who loves connecting with the expats who buy from him. He seemed to infer that might have been the case and that he likes being in Ecuador instead of the US as he felt there are things you learn about the US when you live there--kind of all that glitters isn't gold. Latin America has plenty of history to base its suspicions about our actions but this wasn't one of those occasions. People I talked to also weren't too thrilled with Correa and didn't seem sad at the possibility of his early departure. It's interesting to see how different cultures view leadership. In Russia, strength over personal freedoms was more important. Here, change in leadership by force or will of the people seems more acceptable.    

The State of Exception has been extended for Quito for the next 60 days. I saw military guarding the TV station but that seems to be the only big difference so far. Otherwise, we're hoping to do some more traveling between now and the end of the year. It's bidding season which seems like more stress than it should be and hopefully we'll have an update in the next few weeks.

Until then!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Tanquila Manana

The buses are running again this morning and life is returning to normal. While we were watching the President being rescued (see previous video posting), the garbage men came by for Thursday pick-up so it seems life is returning to a regular routine.

Betty told me things seemed normal this morning but that there were no visible military or police presence on the streets. I skipped my Friday run to the fruit and veg market just to be on the safe side but things really do seem quiet. Betty tried to go to the IEES (social security/insurance) office yesterday and it was all closed up.

It was interesting to see the reactions of local folks. Teresa was playing with Lillian and dancing around saying, "Afuera, Correa. Afuera, Correa!" Some folks thought this had been brewing for a while and he was on his way out. Seems he's back in control this morning and has a new head of police. I asked Teresa if she liked Correa and she said no. She said she votes because it's the law and the people she votes for usually lose.

The government declared a State of Exception yesterday which put the military in charge. They also shut down the non-state run media outlets so all their websites and twitter feeds were down for 5 hours and we were all forced to watch the state run television station for the day. They declared it an anti-demotcratic action by the police against the state and were declaring a citizen uprising against them when Correa made his speech after being rescued from the Police Hospital. The Police Hospital is right next door to the Hospital Metropolitano where we've taken Lillian for cardiology appointments and blood work.

I'm planning on driving to the Embassy later today since all seems to be calm. Hopefully, the police and goverment will come to an agreement soon.

Rescate Presidente del Ecuador Rafael Correa de la Insurgencia

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Civil Unrest---Police Protests

Quite a day for Ecuador. I'm watching the President address crowds in the Centro Historico after being rescued from the Police Hospital where he was stuck all day after the police tear gassed him this morning. The police are on strike against a change in the law regarding their salaries and benefits. Ecuador has a national police force and when they go on strike things kinda go to hell.

Buses stopped service today so our nanny Teresa took a taxi to get here. I paid her today as well and told her to be really careful with all that cash. To which she responded by wrapping the cash I had just handed her in a paper towel and stuffing it in her bra. She's in her late 60's which made the whole thing really funny. She took a taxi home since she lives on the north side of town and doesn't have to pass through the area of protests. My morning housekeeper lives on the south end so I'm concerned she didn't make it home today. We'll see if the buses will be running tomorrow.

The airport has been closed all day and roads in and out of the city have also been blocked. Looting and protests have been reported in Guayaquil and the consulate closed at 1PM there. I stayed home and didn't leave. Everything seemed very quiet in our part of town. Tristan had to work late but said Eloy Alfaro seemed very quiet--gas stations closed and not much traffic. Most people went home early and the schools closed early. Only distressing things was that some of the classes where many Embassy kids go are on field trips out of town.

I'll post more as things develop.

New York Times Article

Police on Strike

Warden Message – U.S. Embassy, Quito, Ecuador
URGENT - Nationwide Police Strike Closes Ecuador Airports, Highways
September 30, 2010

The U.S. Embassy in Quito would like to inform U.S. citizens visiting or residing in Ecuador that a large, nationwide strike by all levels of police, including military police, is developing at this time. As a result, airports in Guayaquil, Quito and other major cities are closed and major highways may also be closed going in and out of Quito, Guayaquil and other major cities.

Due to blockages of multiple roads and tire fires being set by police, the security situation has degraded significantly. American citizens are asked to stay in their homes or current location, if safe. American citizens with immediate travel plans may be forced to put them on hold until the situation improves.

The U.S. Embassy recommends monitoring Ecuadorian news outlets for updates on the strike. We will also continue to provide new information as it comes available.

The U.S. Embassy reminds American citizens that even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. Please note that foreigners participating in political demonstrations or protests of any kind may be subject to arrest and deportation under Ecuadorian law.


Americans living or traveling in Ecuador are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Ecuador through the Department of State’s travel registration website.

U.S. citizens should consult the Country Specific Information for Ecuador and the latest Travel Alerts and Warnings and Worldwide Caution at the Department's website. Updated information on travel and security in Ecuador may also be obtained from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 within the United States or by calling 1-202-501-4444 outside the United States.

The U.S. Embassy in Quito is located at Avigiras E12-170 y Eloy Alfaro. The telephone number for American Citizen Service (ACS) inquiries is (011 593-2) 398-5000. Within the same city use the last seven digits. Add the city code for intercity telephone calls. Public call-in hours are Monday through Thursday 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. and Friday 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. Appointments for ACS are available through our website.

The U.S. Consulate General in Guayaquil is located at the corner of Avenida 9 de Octubre and Garcia Moreno (near the Hotel Oro Verde); telephone (011-593-4) 232-3570 during business hours, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., or 232-1152 for after-hours emergencies.

Anyone can follow the activities of the U.S. Embassy in Ecuador through the Embassy web site, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Rolling! 6/16/2010

I caught Lillian in slow-mo with my camera-phone demonstrating her new rolling skills. For a while, I would turn my back and she would flip over by the time I turned around. This was the first time on camera--of course, she's dressed in UW gear! June 16, 2010.

Here I go!

I did it, Mom!

Lillian and Hillary Clinton

Here's a few pics from the June 8th visit of Secretary Clinton. These are from the Meet 'n Greet that she did with the Embassy staff. Parents weren't allowed for the official picture with her and the children but Lillian's in there if you can find her!

Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Hodges

Lillian cried through the whole thing.
(Our friend Travis is behind Tristan)

I got my handshake!

Secretary Clinton and the children of Embassy Quito
(we'll have to pull the official picture which is better--Lilly's in red on R)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Pico y Placa & La Secretaria

While our family's medical adventures have taken up most of May, there's been other things going on here in our little part of the equator. The most interesting has been the transition to Pico y Placa, also known as Quito's attempt at controlling the increasingly bad traffic. If you've ever spent some time in central London, you will understand the general attempt. The amusement is that this is the developing world and that puts a whole new spin on the plan. There didn't seem to be any attempt or discussion of increased buses or other public transportation. Certainly to many, it seemed a likely opportunity for the police to line their pockets with some cash for those who don't adhere to the rules. Basically, each weekday folks who have plates that end in a certain digit are prohibited from the center of Quito during certain peak traffic hours. Police, taxis, diplomats and the President's vehicle are exempt. Of course, we don't have plates yet (usually takes a year for diplomatic plates--don't ask why) so we have to carry a letter explaining that we are exempt from Pico & Placa. Here's a pic of the informational sign near our house. (probably have to click on it to actually see the explanation)

The other significant news is that Secretary Clinton will be on the ground for a few hours on Tuesday. There's a Meet and Greet that afternoon so hopefully I'll have some nice pics to post. I shook her hand years ago when she was the Commencement Speaker at the University of Illinois graduation back in 1994. Now I'll be able to say I've met all three female Secretaries of State.

Ecuador is a flower producing country and you can usually get 2 dozen roses for $2. I'm spoiled because we always have fresh flowers in the house. Here's a pic of one of the big roadside stands in Quito.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Medical May

It's June 1st and frankly I'm happy to see May in the rear view mirror. It was filled with more trips to the doctor and hospital than I am comfortable with in a year. At the end of April, I signed up the take the hospital tour sponsored by the Health Unit. We saw the two approved hospitals--Hospital de los Valles in Cumbaya and Hospital Metropolitanto in Quito. Both good facilities that I felt comfortable using if it came to that. Little did I know, less than a week later, I would find myself with a nasty case of food poisoning. Hospital tour came in handy sooner than planned. After a consult with the health unit, we packed everyone up and headed down to Cumbaya. I don't recommend getting food poisoning while breastfeeding--recipe for disaster. My white blood cell count was elevated and my fever spiked in the ER while Tristan was signing my admission papers and I was trying to feed Lillian who was screaming. Horrible 24 hours. After three liters of saline, antibiotics, anti-nausea meds, and pain killers, I returned home with an empty gut, some new vocabulary and an appreciation for my family and the ability to pay for good medical care in the developing world.

The next week, we had Lillian's 4 month check-up where the heart murmur we already knew about was a bit more pronounced than the Embassy Nurse Practitioner was comfortable with. Off to the pediatric cardiologist this time, Dr. Davalos, who it turns out was trained in the US, worked at Buffalo Children's Hospital, speaks perfect English, and married an American. An EKG and ECHO later, we've learned Lillian has a small Atrial Septal Defect in the Secundum area of the heart of 0.4 centimeters which should resolve itself in the next year. Lillian was extremely well behaved during the ECHO and actually enjoyed watching her heart on the monitor. It was like TV for her which she has come to like a little too much and Mom and Dad use to calm the screaming baby more often than we should.

Then came this past weekend. After 12 weeks of Lillian's bloody stools and other issues I won't discuss further in public, I finally had had enough. I've been been trying to connect her symptoms with what I've been eating. To make sure she wasn't anemic, we had a CBC done which turned up an alarmingly low platelet count. We were looking at medivac and other issues over the weekend. Luckily a manual count showed a more normal range but some other numbers that were off, most likely related to the GI bleeding. Yesterday, we met with the Embassy Nurse Practitioner to talk about what we knew and what we need to do. I also called our pediatrician in Seattle who said this might be something we just have to live with and should resolve itself by age one. I'd cut my diet down to chicken and black beans and still couldn't figure it out. Being hungry and worrying about your kid makes for a super cranky Mommy. Our Seattle doc said I should eat--stay away from milk and soy but eat again and chalk it up to experience. The good news is it's super frustrating but not life threatening--just makes Mommy upset everytime I change a diaper!

I'm stubborn so I still want to figure out what foods are still bugging her. Cutting out citrus but adding back in pork and other proteins this week. Hopefully this will resolve itself soon and I can stop stressing over the whole thing. We are going to connect with a local pediatric gastroenterologist next week so if anything does get worse, we'll have that relationship established. More medical adventures than I ever thought we'd see this year. It's been a roller coaster--partly being a new parent, partly normal worry, and partly the challenge of living in the developing world. Thanks to everyone who has been so supportive. Fingers crossed things are looking up!

I'm looking forward to R&R in August and the calendar is already filling up with doctors' appointments for Lilly while we're home. Going to have her heart checked just to make sure it's as diagnosed here and won't be complicated by living at 9300 feet. Thank goodness, Tristan didn't get food poisoning and all this will pass. I leave behind May with an appreciation for overall good health and a happy family.


Hacienda near Otavalo.
Reaching--April 11, 2010

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Lillian update

We've been back in Quito with Lillian for over two months now. It's nice to be settled in our house but I do admit to missing Seattle. Traveling with a baby is certainly different than just the two of us. The question of where the heck am I going to change her diaper crosses my mind more often than it should. The car seems to be a good, reliable place so far, but I've started not worrying about whipping out the changing pad and doing it on the floor of a restaurant with other diners in close proximity.

She's a good little traveler and has done well with the few road trips we've taken. She's not big on Quito traffic, but neither are we. She prefers to be moving, but, thanks to our friend Yuko, is occupied with her toy chimes that hang from the car window.

Lilly's talking (not real words, of course) and cooing quite a bit these days. She finally smiled around 3 months which was right on target for her gestational age of 2 months. She hasn't laughed yet but I'm looking forward to it soon as she smiles with a very cute full body smile (tongue included!). Most nights (unfortunately not last night), she sleeps 8-10 hours in one stretch which certainly helps with the return of our sanity. She started sleeping 5 hour stretches around 10 weeks and has gradually added on over the last 4 weeks. She goes to sleep a bit before 10pm and sleeps all the way until 6-8AM. Of course last night I tried to put her down at 8pm or so which then resulted in lots of waking up until 11PM.

We've had the adventure of seeing the local pediatrician already which wasn't in my plan. The embassy NP is great and I didn't really have any motivation or desire to see a local doc. Unfortunately, Lilly seems to have inherited my milk allergy, so we were urged to connect with a local pediatrician given her symptoms and since the NP hadn't dealt with this problem before. So, one afternoon, Tristan and I went on an adventure to first find the pediatrician who has an office at Hospital Metropolitano. (next time we'll ask in advance about where the hell to park!) The doctor was perfectly fine--trained in the states and spoke excellent English, which I appreciated since I haven't mastered the vocab for childhood ailments. I would have liked to have seen a little more handwashing and glove usage. She did check Lillian out but didn't tell us much we didn't already know. She did seem think that Lilly's gastric distress could be caused by bacteria which doesn't seem the case to me. I think that's due to the fact that kids here tend to have more stuff in their gut than we do in the states. She should have started me on a food diary and asked more about what I was eating. I'm looking forward to going back to the states and seeing our pediatrician in Ballard and possibly an allergist there. Overall, not super impressed. She wants to see us again after another test. Still debating the usefullness of that. I called my lactation consultant, Emily Pease, in Seattle and she did a fantastic job of explaining the physiology of dairy allergies in infants and reassured me that I was probably headed down the right path.

Despite the persistent diaper rash and gastric distress, Lillian is a happy baby and seems to be gaining weight well. All this seems to worry me more than it does her. I've tried my best to cut out all milk products and might cut the soy as well later this week just to see if it helps. She was improving well until I ate a hamburger at TGIFriday's of all places that I suspect had some butter on the bun. I've started a food diary to see if I need to cut out the red meat as well or other protein sources. It's a little hard reading labels in Spanish but I figure it's better than Russian. I did finally figure out that the local peanut butter I was eating has milk powder in it so we picked up some Jiff at the Commissary.

Lilly's reaching and grabbing things that are close by. She loves her play-yard and can grab hold of the bugs that hang on it. She drools like crazy on me and anyone else who picks her up but usually compensates them with a smile.

Here's a few pics from the past few weeks

First nap in her big crib

Those amazing eyes!

Getting to know Grandma & Grandpa Ho

Almost a smile!
April 18, 2010

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

First visitors--Mom and Dad come to Ecuador!

Well, it's been a little while since I've been able to write. A little catch up--my parents came to vist so I've included a few pictures here. Lillian hit a few more milestones and a few roadblocks that I'll write more about later. The house repairs continue but are hopefully tapering off. I've started back with Spanish lessons and the nice thing is my Spanish teacher will come to the house for a fraction of what I would pay in the states. I need to get out more but that takes more planning with a little one and only one car between the two of us so I'm home more than I planned.

We took a couple road trips while my folks were here to Papallacta and Otavalo. Lillian did great (better than mom had thought) in the car on long road trips.

Mom & Dad will hate that I posted this!
Enjoying the thermal baths.


Lily hanging out with Dad while Mom gets a massage.

Top of the pass on the drive home.

 Papallacta is an easy drive from Quito and a great weekend getaway. I think we'll be back in the near future.

Mom and Dad also took a day trip to Cotapaxi. The mountain was actually out and they had a fun day. The next day I took Mom with me on my Friday trip to the La Floresta market behind the hotel where we lived for two months when we first arrived. There's one vendor who has organic veggies and who hopefully will bring me some earthworms to start composting again.

La Floresta market.

I buy flowers from this lady every week. Some vendors are starting to recognize me.
I'm short, but this lady is really short!

The following weekend, we went to Otavalo for the Saturday market and then on to Cotacachi. Having been to the market in Otavalo already, Tristan and I like Cotacachi better and think we'll head back again. We stayed at Ali Shungu Lodge. A little more expensive than other places, but the accomodations were beautiful and Mom even got a horseback ride in and the price included dinner and breakfast. Owned by an American couple, it's quite nice and very pastoral. They could use better signage--getting there was a little tricky.

Ali Shungu Lodge


Lily was very popular with the staff.

Ride 'em cowgirl! Go Mom!

Well, we gave Mom a lot of grief for wanting to try cuy but we all had a good laugh and even tried it. Kinda like crispy chicken but not much meat. I had guinea pigs as pets when I was a child so I couldn't quite get past that.

Buen Provecho!


Thursday, April 8, 2010

The gardner is crazy

I'm standing on the balacony.

Quite a drop--good thing the neighbors didn't complain.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Easter and Fanesca

Day One Prep--Peeling and chopping.

Our introduction to Ecuadorian cooking continues through our nanny Anita who is a pretty good cook. This week I asked her to make Fanesca which is a Santa Semana or Holy Week tradition. Squash, beans, peas cabbage, salted cod and lots of other ingredients makes up this yummy treat. The twelve beans or grains are supposed to represent the 12 disciples but Anita didn't know about that when I asked. Check out the Wiki link for a little more information. It's traditionally made on Good Friday when the whole family gathers with a little extra for your neighbors. Anita said she's going to church on Friday and Saturday but didn't have plans yet with her family to make the soup. 

Boiling the beans and veggies.

Frying the onions on Day Two. Fanesca in progress is on the right. YUM!

She also made Arroz con leche y pasas (dessert--rice pudding with raisins). This will be my last meal with milk since it looks like Lillian might have the same allergy to milk I did as a baby so the elimination diet starts next week. Bummer cuz I like cheese and it's hard to label read abroad.

I'll post a pic of the final dish after dinner.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Back in the Saddle

Well, we've been back in Quito for just over three weeks. Sleep deprivation makes cultural adjustment feel more extreme than it probably is. I am spending my days at home with Lillian learning how to manage household staff and remember how to speak Spanish after 10 weeks off.

Lillian is doing great--she's only really had one bad night when she woke up every 45 minutes due to altitude adjustment. A little baby tylenol seemed to do the trick. We've made a couple trips to the Embassy and joined in on the annual baby photo with the Ambassador.

Fingers and mouth meet.

Ok, so it's not the best photo but I was able to catch one of her latest milestones. She's loving her fingers and is quite good at getting them in her mouth now. She's still working on her social smile which she's gotten really close to. Tristan says she smiled for him at 3AM while changing her diaper and I've gotten something really close but she's not yet consistent. We're hopeful for smiles soon!

The past two weeks have been busy with workmen in the house and I've been picking up household vocab and stumbling through explanations of plaster repair and plumbing installation. Lessons learned: plumbers will take you for a ride round the world. We hired some recommended plumbers to install a UV water filter. Problem was the instructions for our UV water filter were all in English and I couldn't understand them. After four hours on a Saturday, they broke the glass protector for the UV light and installed it backwards causing a flood. Came back on the next Monday with a new part and young guy who seemed to know what he was doing and two hours later they finally got it straightened out after I called the company in Texas to get advice and order replacement parts. We are now the owners of one expensive filter and some spare parts which I think I could now install myself next time. Super frustrating. I successfully shared my frustration with them in Spanish and think I got my point across.
Plumbers--I'll refrain from further comment.

We also had some water damage to the wood floors and walls near the front entrance since the grass was so tall when we got back after two months and the sprinkler system sprayed water on the front windows. Interesting to be in a country where doing things by hand and wood are still very much an art form.

Sanding the new wood floor--got dust all over the house!

Hopefully everything is set for a while and we're tackling the last few boxes and hoping to hang some things on the wall for the first time in 4 years. We weren't very motivated in Yekat and Moscow since those were one year posts.

Rental furniture arrives.

Day to day, I'm with Lillian which is challenging and rewarding. She's a really good baby--only fussy when she really wants something (diaper, food or sleep) and generally quite content to snooze, hang out or drool when she's awake. Hoping to get more adept at being out and about with her. I am missing Seattle and the ease of life there but for an overseas posting Quito doesn't have too much that one can complain about.

Baby & Bug meet.