Monday, January 31, 2011

NYR 1-31-11

Mike and Nick appear to be getting acclimated to their new environment. Since their arrival, they've hidden in the fake tree every time we go over to check them out or try to talk to them. Mac even put some of his toys on the outside of the tank because he thought they'd like to look at them, but even that didn't endear him to them.

The tide is turning, though (so to speak).

I just went over to the tank (twice to make sure it wasn't a fluke) and they didn't swim back to the tree to hide. In fact, one of them (Mike? Nick?) stared right back at me for a long time. Ruth told me I should be talking to them because fish like to hear people's voices. I don't know where she gets these things from, but since I already talk to them, I'll go with it.

Anyway, for pet fish that finally are acting like they like us, I am truly thankful (because pet fish that don't like us make me very sad!).

Sunday, January 30, 2011

NYR 1-30-11

We have had a really fun weekend here in Bogota. For the gift of new friends in new places, I am truly thankful.

NYR 1-29-11

the Hamilton Beach Big Mouth Pro Juice Extractor

For my latest kitchen small appliance (bought with part of the wonderful Amazon gift certificates we got for Christmas, thank you very much to the givers!) and the amazing, fresh juice it quickly spits out with minimal effort, I am truly thankful!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

we've added to the family

Mac constantly wants a pet. Like a big dog kind of pet. Which we are not having because a) I don't like inside animals and b) I hear horror stories over and over about traveling with pets to foreign countries every two or three years and c) we live in an apartment (see item a for more clarification if necessary).

A few years ago when we lived in Sao Paulo, Santa brought a betta fish to Mac. Or rather Santa left Mac money and a note that said to go to the pet store and pick out his own betta fish. (I think the pet store where Santa would have been shopping sold out of betta fish right at Christmas - they must be a very popular Christmas gift for apartment-dwelling Paulistanos).

So we went to the pet store and they had two betta fish in the whole store - both in the same tank which I understand is a no-no for betta fish. In case you didn't know, betta fish are fighting fish so naturally if two are in the tank together, they fight. And when anything fights, there's a winner and a loser. We ended up buying the loser.

Why, you might ask?

Because the winner was a female, according to the shopkeeper (how did she know that??) and the loser was a male.

That's all Mac needed to hear. He absolutely did not want a girl fish.

It didn't matter that the girl fish was a magnificent creature with a blue tail that fanned out over what looked like half the tank.

It didn't matter that the boy fish looked like a loser. His tail was all ragged because that girl fish had beaten it right off.

So we took home a very overpriced, beaten-up, bedraggled boy betta, who was promptly named Pedro.

Pedro was the ideal pet. He got fed once a day most days, his water was changed every 4 days unless I forgot it was the fourth day, and he didn't ask for anything else. He didn't care that we didn't make his tank pretty with rocks and fake trees (that I saw as merely an algae-collector that would need extensive cleaning.) I put a mirror up next to his tank because that's what I'd heard you do with bettas to bring out their fighting instincts. Poor Pedro was so glad to be away from his female fighting roommate that he never took the bait and blew up. He was a lovely docile creature who really thrived on neglect.

I gave into having a pet fish because I thought it would be a short-lived affair. We'd buy Pedro, Pedro would live for a couple weeks or maybe a couple months, and then we'd have a solemn toilet-flushing funeral service. We'd be so torn up over our loss that we'd all swear off pets forever because we just couldn't bear to lose a family member again.

Except that Pedro refused to die. I am not proud of this - and please don't report me to PETA - but we sometimes forgot to leave Pedro with a friend when we went out of town so there were some weekends or - gasp! - even a week when he didn't get fed. We always came home expecting him to be belly-up, but Pedro was hearty. I believe that Pedro was so happy to be away from that girl that he could thrive anywhere as long as he wasn't with her. We kept Pedro on a shelf in the kitchen and as I was the one in the kitchen most often, I found myself talking to him like a crazy lady. I really could watch him swim in his little tank for stretches at a time because he became so beautiful. Pedro's tail grew to be more magnificent than his sister's. It was long and wavy and garnet and black. A perfect Gamecock fish for a perfect Gamecock-loving little boy.

We had Pedro for 18 months before it was time to leave Sao Paulo. We said our goodbyes and gave him to a friend to love when we left the country.

We got through the year in SC without an animal pet of any sort, but the drums have started beating around here for a pet. I will not have a guinea pig or any other member of the rat/rodent family; I think birds are disgusting housepets; there's no chance of a cat or dog; and so that leaves us - again - with a fish.

We went to the pet store today to buy a betta, but they were all out. So we bought substitute fish. They're like mini-bettas - we got two because they're not fighters and we didn't want them to be lonely. We even got rocks and a fake tree.

They have been named Nick and Mike. In the store, Nick was the big one and Mike was the little one, but in the car coming home, Mac decided he liked the little one best and as Nick is currently his alter-ego name, Nick became the little one and Mike is the big one. They've been acclimated to their new tank and they're swimming like crazy. I can't tell if they're happy or not, but I'll take it as a good sign that nobody's belly-up yet.

I present the newest Storys - Nick and Mike (or Mike or Nick):

Friday, January 28, 2011

NYR 1-28-11

Mac got a clean bill of health today after the 10-day medicinal cocktail, and for that, I am truly grateful.

NYR 1-27-11

A day late, but for a really great day yesterday, I'm really grateful. More to come on what made it a great day...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

the weather in Bogota

We have definitely been enjoying the best that Bogota has to offer in the weather department. It hasn't rained in ages and it's been so nice and sunny and warm.

This afternoon the clouds opened up, though, and unleashed all sorts of fury. We had lots of hail, which excited Mac a lot.
My herb plants getting rained and hailed on

one of my once-spectacular hydrangeas that (both) had to be pruned back because of a horrible fungus. Those little white rocks aren't some sort of Colombian Miracle Gro - they're hail. We're hoping they have Miracle Gro rejuvenating powers.

We even had rain and hail in our walk-in closet, courtesy of those great skylights that obviously aren't sealed very tightly. I wish I could tell you that little crystal was a diamond that I carelessly dropped on the floor because I have so many that they're falling off me. Alas, it's just a piece of hail. Doesn't everybody have that on their carpeted closet floor?

NYR 1-26-11

For this rainstorm that's come out of nowhere with a terrible vengeance, I am thankful because it means I won't have to water the balcony plants. (But we're good now for rain and it can go away for at least another month.)

For Mac's excitement at seeing hail come into my closet courtesy of not-airtight skylights, I guess I'm thankful.

For a fun day with fun friends before the rainstorm started, I am truly thankful.

NYR 1-25-11

Yesterday I stayed home all day long. I didn't even take a shower until early afternoon. I worked on a job application and cover letter (!); I thankfully had no computer issues (after reading online that my particular laptop has an overheating issue and that running a desktop fan right on the laptop can help - and it did!); I ate leftover pizza for lunch; I did some tedious tax paperwork for the embassy that's due next week; etc. I feel caught up and for that I am truly thankful!

Monday, January 24, 2011

NYR 1-24-10 and my teeth!

Today I went to the dentist for my 6-month cleaning and check-up. I actually used Mac's dentist who does pediatrics in the afternoon and adults in the morning. I had a morning appointment (because I'm not yet a teenager on Wii Fit).

My teeth are great. I was like a horse who got checked out, and she deemed them excellent. In very atypical Colombian dentist fashion, she didn't recommend whitening or straightening or implants, just that I use my attractive nightguard to protect against some serious grinding.

So take that Wii Fit. My body might be that of an old(er) lady, but my teeth are in fine form, and for that, I am truly grateful!

P.S. For the cleaning, flouride treatment and a "varnish" applied on the places where my gums have receded horribly (thanks to my vigorous brushing and my terrible grinding), I paid $80. I LOVE Colombian dentists. Oh, and the dentist actually did the polishing and cleaning herself. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Colombian dentists!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

NYR 1-23-10

Bogota has a "Ciclovia" on Sundays and holidays where the city closes about 75 miles (although I read somewhere it was 100 miles) of streets (including major thoroughfares) to traffic and allows those closed streets to be used by runners, cyclists, and rollerbladers. Wikipedia says that each week, the Ciclovia is used by some 2,000,000 people. Other cities around the world now hold Ciclovias, but Bogota is cited as the original.

We have not partaken of the Ciclovia because Jimmy sold his two bikes in Brazil (from lack of use) and didn't have a replacement yet and Mac's and my bikes were in bad shape after the shipment and we hadn't done anything to fix them.

Jimmy bought a new bike this weekend and fixed ours so we all went out to cycle on the Ciclovia today. It was so beautiful - sunny and about 70 degrees at the time we were out -and we all had a great time, although my legs will feel it tomorrow.

For living in a city that sees the value of having a Ciclovia and our finally using it, I am truly thankful.

a malfunctioning Wii Fit?

Jimmy and Mac gave me - at my months-long request - Wii Fit for Christmas. I hadn't opened it yet because of holiday rigamarole, vacation, etc, but let's be honest. Wii Fit is a commitment. It tracks what you do and what you don't do, it makes you set goals, and it's really exercise in an entertainment package. In other words, it might have been better in theory than in practice.

All that aside, Jimmy opened it yesterday and got it all set up. Then we each had to do a little body test so we could get a Wii age. So I stepped on that board thing that comes with it, got my weight and BMI measured, and then had to do this little balancing exercise. Then I got the results.

Well guess what that stupid thing told me my age was?


Are you kidding me? It told me I needed to gain 15 pounds to be at my ideal weight and my BMI was on the low end of normal, but because I couldn't balance right on that stupid board, I was 54?!?!?!?

Does it not know that I am an experienced Segway rider and that requires substantial balance?

So I did the body test today in an effort to get my "age" down. My weight and BMI were the exact same as yesterday but today's test was for peripheral vision, which Wii Fit informed me afterwards "didn't appear to my strong suit" or some such nonsense.

In any event, Wii Fit must not place as much importance on peripheral vision as on balance because my new Wii age is now 40. Which would be great if it were after April and I were actually 40.

I hope tomorrow's body test is lazing on the couch because I know I can ace that. Maybe I'll get a teenager age after that test.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

NYR 1-22-11

I am truly thankful for:

1. The humongous pack of paper towels, huge cartons of Goldfish crackers, and numerous packs of Planter's trail mix yummy goodness that my mom sent us;

2. The new balcony dining furniture we got today;

3. The yummy lunch that Jimmy grilled to enjoy on the aforementioned furniture on a gorgeous mid-January day;

4. Mac's medicinal cocktail that seems to be doing the trick;

5. Delicious homemade pizza that I hadn't made in ages until last night

Friday, January 21, 2011

NYR 1-21-11 and life in the big city

Today, by my conservative calculation, I walked some 56 blocks doing errands. Parking is a nightmare here and (obviously) my errands were all over the place, so I decided to walk to do them all rather than battle traffic and park illegally! And it was so gloriously beautiful - and dare I say HOT? - that I actually sweated today. Any maybe got a little sunburn on my face.

For "summer" in Bogota, I am truly thankful!

P.S. One of my errands was getting a new power cord for my laptop. Pretty excited that I managed that one on my own because the computer "mall" I was sent to by the folks at Office Depot was more than a little daunting. The power cord is working but I do believe my laptop may be on its last legs...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mac - a man of his word

When Jimmy and I found out we were having a baby, we quickly decided on a boy's name but could never get to a girl's name. It wasn't a matter of consensus; we just couldn't come up with anything we liked. Thankfully the baby turned out to be a boy because James McKelvey just doesn't cut it on a human who wears dresses and hairbows.

We knew from the get-go that we'd call this child Mac, but we thought there was a certain panache to J. McKelvey Story. Like it sounded like a really strong lawyer-type name or something.

Fast forward 8+ years and we have a child who clearly, if this week is any indication, has a love of contracts, which is lawyer-ly-ish, right?

On vacation, we ate a lot of junk. Actually who am I kidding? We just eat a lot of junk period. I love a good Coca-Cola and I don't think I could pass up a plate of french fries for a million dollars. Give me a choice of chocolate or an apple and I will always choose the chocolate. But we - Jimmy and I - decided on vacation that we had to improve our eating habits and especially Mac's. He's gotten sooooo much better about what he'll eat, but fruits and veggies just aren't his first choice if he's given a choice. That fruit didn't fall far from this tree.

So on Sunday night when we got home, we all sat down and planned our menu for the week. Then we made it into a contract, where we all signed to say that we accepted the menu and would eat each dinner without complaining.

Monday night was pretty easy to stick to the contract - we had beef tenderloin on the grill, brown rice, grilled corn on the cob, steamed broccoli and grilled red peppers. Mac ate everything but the grilled red peppers. SUCCESS!

Tuesday night was a harder sell - a beautiful salad with leftover tenderloin, lettuce, cucumbers, mango, red peppers, asparagus, and sugar snaps. Mac picked out parts of the salad that he liked, but surprisingly he ate everything but lettuce and red peppers.

Wednesday night was a slam dunk - spaghetti, salad and french bread. If we had that 7 nights a week, I'd never have a food battle ever.

Tonight was the real test. I made cornbread and a delicious tomato-based vegetable soup with peas, corn, and leftover Christmas ham. (For you southern purists, the okra season lasts about 4 days and ended in November and there are no butter beans to be found.) I'm convinced that Jimmy was so sure that we were going to have a battle on our hands tonight that he "had to take a late phone call at work" and wasn't able to get home until after our normal dinnertime. Sounds fishy, right? Yeah, I thought so too. Well I was never more surprised when Mac sat down and ate some of the soup. He wasn't a huge fan, but he ate some of the tomato part, lots of ham and a handful of peas. That may not sound like much to you, a successful mother or father who has raised your child to eat delicious, healthy food without complaint, but I wouldn't have been more surprised if a space shuttle had landed on our balcony. When Jimmy finally got home, he was shocked that there had been no uproar. Mac's going to be hungry in the morning but tonight went in the Win column.

Tomorrow night is the re-instituted Story Family's Friday Movie and Homemade Pizza Night. Mac would rather order Papa John's, but still, we can't go wrong with making it at home.

Dare I dream that every week could be this easy just by planning the menu together and signing a contract? If a contract is the language that Mac understands, I am on top of it. Clearly he is living up to his lawyer-ly name.

NYR 1-20-11


1. getting a couple shots of unexpected good news that gives me lots to look forward to;

2. rolling the Bogotano dice and not carrying an umbrella since we got home on Sunday and not being caught once - unarmed - in a downpour (loving the January weather here!);

3. a fun morning and Chinese food for lunch with my gal-pal Cammy;

4. an amazingly humongous basil plant plus the pot plus the woman at the store potting it for me, all for just $3.50;

5. the new juicer that I ordered that's on backorder at Amazon but that I know is going to be amazing when we finally get it; and

6. affordable and excellent dental care here in Bogota (Mac went to the dentist on Monday and a cleaning, sealant replacement and flouride treatment were just $60 and the panoramic x-ray at the x-ray place was a mere $12.50 - makes me really question why my co-pay at our American dentists is more than the full price of the visit and x-ray here!?!?!?),


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

NYR 1-19-11

For happy family dinners (where everybody likes what I'm serving for three nights in a row now!), I'm truly grateful.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

NYR 1-18-11 and a glass half empty

This New Year's Resolution thing is making every day a glass-half-full sort of day, and today really wasn't a glass-half-full kind of day.

We started the day at the embassy's health unit as we had been instructed to return with Mac when we got back from vacation to make sure his sinus infection/cough were better. The health unit normally opens at 8 so we were there promptly at 8 (because school started back today and the boy needed to be in school. Or maybe the boy's mom needed the boy to be in school. Whatever.)

Since yesterday was a holiday, the normally scheduled Monday staff meeting for the health unit folks was held today. Which meant they didn't open until 8:30. Which I didn't know until we got there at 8am. Okay. That gave Mac and me a few minutes to load some boxes in the car. (On a happy note, the new quilts for Mac's bedroom, new firm pillows for me, and Mac's Christmas gift card-ordered Legos arrived during our vacation.)

Mac was finally seen around 8:45. The respiratory crud continues. So after enduring a long breathing treatment and purchasing prescriptions for another round of a different antibiotic, a nasal spray and Claritin-D (to go along with his inhaler that we never use but now are using every 4 hours), Mac finally got to school close to 11:00. My next few hours were spent running errands to catch up on life after being away for awhile. And then to top it all off, I think the power cord died for my laptop died tonight. Now I've got to order another one and wait for it to get here before I can watch my three downloaded episodes of "Brothers and Sisters". BOOOOOOOO on that.

Definitely a half-glass-empty sort of feeling today. Maybe just post-vacation blues?

I guess what I'm most thankful for today is that we have our car here (which I had to fill up with gas today for just the second time here). Today's doctor visit and errand-running and school-dropping-off weren't nearly as onerous as they could have been had we had to deal with a taxi for all those to and fro's. So for the ability to drive myself around in my own car, I am truly thankful.

Monday, January 17, 2011

NYR 1-17-11

Today, on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I am particularly grateful for the ideology and hard work of a man (and his fellow believers) who gave his life for a cause that changed the face of a nation.

NYR 1-16-11

For shopping at IKEA in Santo Domingo before our departure, I am truly thankful.

P.S. Jimmy and Mac should consider themselves REALLY lucky that I didn't stay in Santo Domingo. Krispy Kreme AND IKEA? That's about as close to paradise as you can get for me!

NYR 1-15-11

To know that this...
or this...
or this...
or this...
...could be our family "portrait", I am truly thankful.

NYR 1-14-11

For Mac's ability to make new friends effortlessly, I am truly thankful.

NYR 1-13-11

To know that places that look like this still exist in the world, I am truly thankful (and ready to go back at a moment's notice).

NYR 1-12-11

To be somewhere so beautiful with the love of my life, I am truly thankful.

NYR 1-11-11

For red toenails, white sand and blue water, I am truly thankful.

NYR 1-10-11

For Mac getting to do things that don't fall into our everyday routine - like jumping off a high dock into a fresh-water, crystal clear lagoon or driving a golf cart at a gorgeous beach resort or riding a Segway or sea kayaking or catching a fish on a fishing trip in the Caribbean - I am truly thankful.

NYR 1-9-11

For great friends and a relaxing opportunity to catch up after way too long even though we fit back together like we'd seen each other yesterday, I am truly thankful.

NYR 1-8-11

For watching three happy children play on this beautiful beach at the Punta Cana Hotel, I am sooooo thankful.

NYR 1-7-11

For the Krispy Kreme doughnut shop in Santo Domingo - where the Hot and Now sign burns brightly and the doughnuts taste every bit as good as they do in the US - I am truly thankful.

P.S. My boys don't realize how lucky they are that I really came back to Bogota with them. The Krispy Kremes were almost enough to keep me in Santo Domingo forever!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

NYR 1-6-11

Are you tired of my New Year's Resolution postings yet? I'm not because I think all day about what I'm going to post and that makes me appreciate more all the little good things that are happening in my life.

Today I'm not waiting until tonight to post because I'm leaving on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back again.

Well, that last part's not true. But we are leaving this afternoon for 10 blissful, warm (hopefully sunny and no rain!) days in the Dominican Republic. We'll get to catch up with our very dearest friends from Mozambique who are now posted to the DR plus we'll have 7 fab-u-lous days in Punta Cana. Me and my newly painted red toenails are R.E.A.D.Y.

So for a nice long vacation with my boys in a sunny (please, Lord!), tropical clime AND for catching up with great friends, I am doubly and truly and profoundly grateful.

P.S. I'm not taking my laptop on vacation because it needs a rest, too. If I can update from my iTouch, then I'll update. Otherwise, I'll post 10 days' worth of resolutions when we get back. But don't you worry, I'll be profoundly grateful the whole time I'm sitting on that beach!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

NYR 1-5-11

Two things today:

1. We took delivery of our car about 5 weeks ago. I filled the tank up with gas when we got it and I have been driving on the same tank of gas now for 5 weeks. For that, I am truly thankful.

2. Tomorrow we leave for a 10-day vacation to the Dominican Republic (but more about that later), so today I "needed" to get a manicure and pedicure to be beach-ready. I was going to a little mani-pedi party this afternoon but knew I wouldn't have time to have both treatments done at the fiesta, so I had a manicure this morning at the salon a couple blocks away from our apartment. The cost for this beautification? A mere $4.25. The pedicure at a friend's house this afternoon was $7. For cheap beauty treatments, I am truly thankful.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

NYR 1-4-11

Today we had Mac's (belated) well child check-up for his 8th birthday which was some 6.5 weeks ago. Turns out we combined the well child and sick child visits all in one!

Mac has battled a terrible cough and general cold-like ick for a couple weeks now but no fever, no swollen lymph nodes (that I felt in my very experienced medical opinion), and no real complaints, so I chalked it up to general cold-like ick. Turns out it was a sinus infection. (Thank goodness my reign as Mother of the Year is over because I surely would have lost the crown today.)

As of today Mac has started on antibiotics and a nasal spray, Since we leave on a 10-day vacation on Thursday morning, I am truly thankful that we went to the doctor and that drugs exist to knock out cold-like icky things.

Monday, January 3, 2011

NYR 1-3-11

Today Mac had a first-time playdate with an American girl whose dad we know from the embassy. This 7 year-old came over about 12:30 and they played without incident, quarrel, heated discussion, etc until 5:00. The only commotion I heard was raucous belly-laughing or screaming when one jumped out from hiding and scared the other.

Mac has had such great playdates recently. They play Wii, lightsaber fight, build Legos and forts, eat snacks, construct all sorts of crazy things out of TinkerToys, play hide-and-seek, and NOBODY GETS BENT OUT OF SHAPE!! Nobody gets their feelings hurt, nobody tattles, nobody says they're ready to go home early, and Mac doesn't want them to leave when they have to go.

For happy, fun playdates and nice friends for my boy to play with, I am truly grateful.

Addition to NYR 1-2-11

Taco Bell has just opened in Bogota and it's a huge deal. The one time we tried to eat there last week, the line was like nothing you've ever seen at a Taco Bell in the US. According to an article about the opening in the local newspaper, it was a Facebook campaign that actually brought Taco Bell here. These people like them some tacos.

Last night, after the boys finished at the movie, they ate at Taco Bell and brought me home some soft tacos and a burrito. Yummmmmm.

I am truly thankful for Taco Bell opening in Bogota and for my boys thinking of me and bringing home some food I love.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

the work party lechona

On Wednesday night, we hosted a work party and Jimmy ordered a Colombian lechona for the event. I understood lechona to be like pulled pork (sort of), but I was really wrong in how it's presented. It's not your southern pig pickin', that's for sure.

The caterer delivered it and I took a quick peek before Jimmy got home (namely because the smell was driving me crazy in a good way). I thought there might be a way to sneak a taste before the party started, but this pig was locked up tight. They basically take a big sheet of crunchy pork skin - chicharron - and wrap it around a mixture of rice, beans, and pulled pork. You literally have to crack through the skin to get started eating on this thing. Let me tell you that it was yummmmmmmmy. (If you order it for enough people, the pig comes complete with a head. We ordered lechona for just 40 people which is thankfully too small to come with the head).

I present my friend, the pig, aka the lechona

How many State Department employees does it take to cut open and up a lechona?

NYR 1-2-11

This holiday season has seriously worn me out. It started at Thanksgiving and there's just been no rest for the weary. I thought things would settle down some after Christmas, but it just hasn't happened. On Wednesday, my mom flew back home after a little over 2 weeks here with us. On Wednesday night, we hosted an official work party for about 30 people at our apartment. On Thursday, I grocery shopped for the weekend's events. On Friday, I prepped for Saturday and we had family friends over for New Year's Eve to watch the Carolina ballgame. And yesterday, we had 20 people over for a big New Year's Day supper.

I was so wound up last night that I finally turned the light off around 1am and ended up getting out of bed at 9:45 this morning (after a couple hours of dozing off and on, lest you think I'm entirely lazy). It's now 6:48pm and I just got out of my pajamas and took a shower. Jimmy and Mac have gone to the movies and I have enjoyed an HGTV/Food Network marathon. It's been blissful.

For a day of rest, I am truly grateful.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

NYR 1-1-11

Today Jimmy and I hosted our traditional SC Lowcountry New Year's Day meal for friends here in Bogota. It was a really mixed group of people from different US agencies at the embassy as well as one Colombian couple - most of whom didn't know each other all that well - and I HAD SO MUCH FUN!

For me, Bogota has been a really tough place to meet and connect with people with whom we share common interests and/or really want to be around. So to spend hours with people whose company I truly enjoyed was a real blessing and one for which I am truly thankful.

P.S. There are no collard greens in Bogota. For those of you from the SC Lowcountry, you know that you have to eat collard greens on New Year's Day to bring you money in the new year. We ate sauteed spinach tonight, and we're hoping it does the same thing.

P.P.S. In Colombia, you're supposed to wear yellow underwear on New Year's Eve to bring you wealth in the coming year. I did not wear yellow underwear as I do not own yellow underwear, so I'm really hoping that spinach works.

P.P.P.S. Colombia is full of superstitions around the new year in addition to the yellow underwear. If you want to travel in the coming year, you're supposed to go out at midnight and pull a suitcase around the block. Supposedly the faster you go, the more you'll travel. For good luck or either prosperity (I've heard both), you're supposed to carry 12 lentils in your pocket (I don't know for how long). They also eat 12 grapes at midnight and make a wish as they eat each one. Just some things to ponder as you contemplate the new year...

new year's resolution

I'm not a big resolution maker at the start of each new year, namely because I don't have a lot of staying power with the resolution. (You may remember last year's ill-conceived resolution to run a marathon. That didn't pan out so well, but I have some great cold-weather running clothes if you ever need to borrow them.)

But just now, I came up with my resolution for 2011. Each and every single day (as long as I have internet access), I'm going to tell you one thing that happened that day for which I'm grateful. Not to sound like Oprah or anything, but I think this will be a good exercise to stay focused on what's good in my life because there's just so much negativity and bad news everywhere I turn.

So here's to 2011: I hope our year is filled to the brim with all the good stuff for which we are truly grateful!!