Monday, May 30, 2011

NYR 5-28-11 - thankful to be alive

Jimmy's friend from grad school days flew in for the holiday weekend. A group of embassy friends was going to visit the little town of Tobia for part of the weekend, so we asked Matt if he wanted to go. Now, after living through the overnight trip, I desperately wish he'd say no, but when we asked him, I was happy he said yes. We'd get to hang out with friends, go whitewater rafting, and be in a hot, sunny climate.

Tobia is only 75 kilometers from Bogota, but the road is terrible in some parts due to the neverending rains and resulting landslides. There are places where the road goes down to one skinny lane because that's all they've cleared after the slides. So 75 kilometers (or 47 miles) ends up taking over 2 hours to drive.

We left on Saturday morning and got to the hotel by lunchtime. The hotel was basically like camping but with walls. No hot water, mattresses that were as hard as sleeping on the ground, lots of bugs, etc. Not a luxury accommodation by any stretch but we weren't paying luxury prices, so that was fine.

We decided to go on a hike that afternoon. Thankfully, Mac decided he didn't want to go and he stayed back at the hotel to swim with friends.
en route to the hike - in the back of a pickup truck when I was still smiling

We'd been told that "you might get wet" on the hike, but within 3 minutes of hiking, we were neck-deep in water. We followed a river (with waterfalls that we had to climb around or through) upstream until we got to a "sliding rock". At that point, we veered away from the river onto a path back into this little hamlet where our ride dropped us off and would pick us back up.
Catching up to the boys and just before I had to pull myself up on a rope to get up around that waterfall
Jimmy on "Sliding Rock" which he said was about an 82-degree incline
happy to be back on a path and not in the water. Happiness was short-lived.

I was pretty excited to be on the path which felt more secure under my feet until we had to go around two recent landslide areas that had wiped the path out. On the last one, I was literally shaking with fear that my feet were going to slip on the loose rocks and that I was going to fall to my death or at least serious injury.

The other thing that was in the back of my mind the whole time was that I shouldn't have read the autobiographies of people who have been kidnapped by the bad guys here in Colombia. Now the area that we were in is safe and has been cleared for travel by the embassy's security folks, but the descriptions in those autobiographies kept coming back to me. I imagined myself on a forced march fording rivers and streams and hiking across jungles where you pick up parasites and worms that bore into your skin. You get the idea.

In my mind's eye, I was living out scenes from the kidnapping autobiographies.

The path was supposed to go across where that white pipe is in the bottom of the photo. But the landslide wiped out all of that, so we had to cut up and around.
I'm serious when I tell you we were in the boonies. We passed this family heading back up the mountain with their donkey laden with supplies. I hope they knew another way around the landslide area!

I was never so glad to be done with a hike in my life.

For surviving the hike and conquering fears, I am truly thankful.

NYR 5-27-11 - digging in the dirt

When we first moved into our apartment - and didn't have our car yet - I paid an absolute fortune buying plants from the plant nursery truck that roams the city. Jimmy was hosting a VIP work party and I was not going to be embarrassed by an empty terrace. The truck came, we bought a few biggish plants and practically had to sell a kidney to cover the bill.

I had two of the most gorgeous, most humongous hydrangeas you've ever seen.

And then they got some mold disease. After researching on the internet, I cut the plants all the way back and was so happy when they came back.

They got leafy and bushy quite quickly. One of the hydrangeas even bloomed.

And then that pesky mold came back. The leaves were gray and spotted and the plants looked awful.

I was done with my beautiful hydrangeas, even if they cost a small fortune.

So on Friday, I went to a nursery near Mac's school and bought red hibiscus to replace the hydrangeas. Right now they're beautiful and hopefully they'll avoid the awful fungus. There are lots of unopened buds and I can't wait to see the plants in full bloom.

For digging in the dirt to plant these gorgeous tropical plants, I am truly thankful.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

NYR 5-26-11 - when one thing leads to another

Today my friend Cammy and I had our usual Thursday joint tennis class. When I got dressed for tennis, it was sunny and absolutely beautiful. I wore shorts and a tank top with a t-shirt on top that I planned to strip off when I warmed up.

Except as soon as we got in the car to go to tennis, it started spitting rain. We're hearty girls and a little spitting rain doesn't scare us off the court.

Except that by the time we got to the court, it was raining pretty hard.

We tried to wait out the rain but finally decided that we hearty girls could play in the pretty hard rain.

That lasted about 5 minutes before I was freezing.

I went back under the cover while Cammy played for about 5 more minutes before the coach called it.

We ended up talking for over an hour while we waited for the rain to abate. The conversation wandered from our coach's history to the fact that Cammy hasn't been to Cartagena once since she's lived here. We decided that there were no free weekends left to travel to Cartagena before they leave the country for good but there was no reason why we couldn't go during the week, just us girls. Since we were pipe dreaming, we may as well pipe dream big, right?

Finally when I could stand the cold no longer and my lips were blue, the three of us made a dash down the hill and out the gate to the car where the car thermometer said it was 52 degrees. A teensy bit chilly out there in the rain in shorts and a t-shirt.

After I got home, showered until the hot water ran out and dressed like I was going snowskiing, I started researching a Cartagena trip.

And guess what? Cammy and I are going next week for a little girls' getaway. Just one night, but we'll have plenty of time to sit by the pool at the Santa Clara and eat that yummy hotel breakfast there that is really to die for.

Had we not been rained out, and had we not sat around in the freezing cold for an hour and half and dreamed of sunnier places, and had there not been a decent enough deal on airline tickets, we would not be going to Cartagena next week.

For one not-so-good thing leading to a really great thing, I am truly thankful.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

NYR 5-25-11 - I've misplaced my Mother of the Year crown

For about three weeks, Mac has been complaining of a stomachache. When I hear such complaints, I expect evidence of said ache in the form of vomit, diarrhea or irregular bowel movements. Barring this evidence, I assume the stomachache is a figment of the imagination.

After three weeks, all I got was a note home from the nurse on one occasion to say that Mac had come in complaining of a stomachache that was more on his skin than in his stomach so she applied a topical ointment to make it feel better.

Weak evidence. Very weak.

On Monday, when Mac got off the bus, he appeared very distraught and said his stomach was killing him. So I called the health unit and got an appointment for the next day (yesterday) so we could lay this stomachache issue to bed, once and for all. (And if it was something serious, I would know that I only let it go for 3 weeks and not months or years.)

Yesterday morning I had my killer tennis class and came home to the phone ringing from Mac's speech therapist who we also know socially. She said that Mac hadn't been himself in speech therapy, that he'd said he was sick and had been to the nurse for a bad stomach, etc. He also told her that his mother was coming to pick him up early to go to the doctor. She just wanted me to know that he didn't seem right.

I quickly showered and went right to school to get Mac. We went straight to the health unit and were seen almost immediately. The stomachache was determined to be a result of maybe heavy phlegm intake from the cough and yucky nose Mac has sported for a few weeks that hasn't responded to medicine or maybe reflux which Mac has suffered from before. He was sent home with a prescription for Zantac for that ailment.

They also noted that one of his tonsils was very swollen. We all decided that there was no need for a strep test because he didn't present with any of the symptoms from the last time he had strep. No fever, no sore throat, no white pustules in his throat.

So we went home and he was fine for awhile until he started complaining about his throat hurting.

Behold the power of suggestion. He heard that his tonsil was swollen and that it was weird that he didn't have a sore throat because of it. He he made his throat sore.

Mac went to bed as normal and woke up this morning complaining of a terrible sore throat. He just could not go to school because his throat hurt so badly.

I checked with a flashlight and saw absolutely nothing. Nada. Zilch.

So I told him if it hurt that bad, he could stay home but we were going back to the doctor's office.

Then I started thinking that perhaps there was a psychological issue behind his not wanting to go to school. Maybe it wasn't a physical issue but an emotional issue. So I asked all these great therapist questions about whether anybody was being mean on the playground, was he enjoying school, did he have any enemies, etc. He answered that nobody was mean, he loved school and he didn't have any enemies.

So we got to the health unit, and I went into great detail with the nurse why I thought he was sick from the power of suggestion. She gave him a big song and dance lecture about how he had a sore throat but that wasn't the end of the world and that he really didn't need to be missing school at the end of the year, etc, etc. It was a great tag-team effort of guilt and tough love.

Then the doctor came in and noticed that he had this little cut under his nose. That cut has been there for weeks and I chalked it up to his blowing his nose too much. My medical diagnosis was off because the doctor said it looked like classic impetigo.

Impe - what?

I asked what that was and was told that it was caused by strep or staph.

Double What?

The doctor suggested we do a strep test just to rule that out for his throat pain.

And guess what?

Sans fever, sans white pustules, the kid has strep throat.

Turns out there was no emotional reason he wanted to miss school. He just didn't feel good. Way to go, Loser Mom.

So now we're on antibiotics - again - which will clear up the strep throat and the impetigo. I feel like such a heel and had to suck up all afternoon to make up for my heel-ness.

Here's to great antibiotics and apparently catching the strep throat early before it got out of hand. For that and Mac's forgiveness, I'm truly thankful.

NYR 5-24-11 - tennis!

Today I had a tennis lesson and if I do say so myself, I totally rocked it.

For that awesome solid sound that occurs when you hit the ball with the sweet spot on the racquet, I am truly thankful.

Monday, May 23, 2011

NYR 5-23-11 - sunny skies

Today was a beautiful, glorious day - a perfect day for tennis, which I enjoyed for 1.5 hours with my friend Cammy and our instructor Jose. We haven't had a lot of those stellar, blue-sky days recently here in Bogota so that made it even more special. I even got a little sunburn on my nose, which I love (but don't tell my dermatologist).

For a really amazing day of sun and tennis and friends, I am truly thankful.

NYR 5-22-11 - cheeseburgers!

Today, we went to a restaurant that a friend introduced me to a few weeks ago. They have THE best cheeseburgers and skinny french fries in Bogota.

For a heavenly, delicious lunch that hit the spot, I am truly thankful.

P.S. I will give 110% at tennis today to burn off the aforementioned lunch.

NYR 5-21-11 - birthday parties and babysitters

As I may have mentioned, we have the world's best babysitter for Mac. Mac LOVES when we go out because Colin is way more fun than Jimmy and I could be on our very best day. It's hours of nonstop Nerf gun wars, Wii marathons, movies and snacks with a 15 year-old boy, so what could be better to an 8 year-old boy than that?

We had Colin lined up for tonight so we could attend a dinner with friends. On Thursday, Mac received an invitation for a friend's sleepover birthday party tonight. This friend's mom is due to give birth to child #4 in two weeks, just two days before the friend's actual birthday. She decided getting one birthday out of the way was best; hence, a party was thrown together at the last minute.

When I told Mac he'd gotten the invitation, his first thought was that he couldn't hang out with Colin, which shows the level of hero worship that he suffers. But he came to his senses and said he wanted to go to the party.

And we were obviously thrilled for him to go to the party. We got a free night out, Jimmy didn't have to walk Colin home late, AND we got to sleep in on Sunday.

For win-win-win situations, I am truly thankful.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

5-20-11 - aye matey!

Tonight the three of us went to see Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. That's part 4 of this series in case you haven't been counting.

We promised Mac we'd go see it on opening night, but unfortunately I never got to the theater earlier this week to buy the tickets ahead of time. I've learned time and time again that failure to buy ahead of time is a big mistake here in Bogota (for "big deal movies" or even average cultural events), but I never remember the lesson.

So when I finally rolled up at the theater around 2pm yesterday, there were about 9 seats left, all in the first three rows.

That means we watched 2 hours of Captain Jack Sparrow.

In 3D.

From the 3rd row.

That's a lot of Captain Jack Sparrow.

Sounds like heaven, right?

I dozed for a few minutes in the beginning, but overall, the Story family's movie review is a solid two thumbs up.

Johnny Depp is his usual fabulous self, Penelope Cruz makes a great pirate, and Geoffrey Rush is always wonderful in anything. And the mermaids? Well, if you haven't seen the movie yet, these are you not your average Little Mermaids. It might be a Disney movie, but these sirens of the sea could not hang out with Mickey Mouse at the Castle. YIKES!

Great movie, great outing with my boys, and for that, I'm truly thankful.

Friday, May 20, 2011

NYR 5-19-11 - directorships and parties

Jimmy recently found out that he's been named the director of his office for the next two years. It's a pretty big deal for a number of reasons and Mac and I are really proud of him (even though we know it means we're going to see less of him than in these last 9 months here).

Tonight we attended an official party at the Ambassador's house to bid farewell to the current director (who leaves next week) and to welcome Jimmy on as the new director.

Every event at this house is lovely - it's a beautiful house and it's always filled with huge flower arrangements and loads of servers walking around offering you drinks and food. In other words, I could get used to living there or maybe just being a houseguest because that wouldn't come with the pressures and headaches of the job that get you the house in the first place...

The party was wonderful. I'm not a mingler/party flitterer by nature - I'd much rather just find somebody I like and find interesting and talk to them - but I did the good wife thing and mingled and flitted as much as I could.

After 3 hours of high heels and a lot of Spanish, my back and head hurt, but I had fun.

For great parties and new jobs, I am truly thankful.

NYR 5-18-11 - the beauty shop!

I hate to culturally stereotype, but let me tell you one thing that Latinos do better than maybe anybody else in the world: aesthetics!

(And I meant to say Latinos to mean men and women and not Latinas to mean only women.)

Today, I went with two friends to my favorite salon here. The salon just moved to a new location a few days ago and this new place is super-chic. Very modern, very hip, spacious, with a fireplace and a crystal chandelier with little red accents, a garden out back... In fact, I could probably live there.

We got there at 11am for 3 haircuts, one coloring, one manicure, and one pedicure. The place was hopping and our guy - Giovanni - was running from one chair to another, serving different clients.

Now in the US, people are so rushed all the time and they get upset if they have to wait too long past the appointment time (or maybe that's just me), but here, it's an experience that you need to be prepared to sit back and enjoy. You talk to other people in the salon, and people are constantly asking if you want coffee or a Coke. It's very civilized and you don't even notice the passing time because it's so enjoyable. And ultimately, you know that once it's your turn, you're not going to be rushed through, that the people behind you will just going on chatting and drinking coffee.

For relaxing into a 2.5-hour salon experience and not being the uptight American tapping her foot (my usual MO) and for leaving with a fabulous haircut and red fingernails, I am truly thankful.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

NYR 5-17-11 - doozy of a Tuesday

I don't know why Tuesdays are so awful in our house. The day goes along just peachy, and then Mac gets home from school and it all falls apart. I'm thinking that on Monday, he's tired when he has to get up so early but he's still got some weekend reserves in the tank so we don't have drama. But by Tuesday, holy Batman, the tank is empty and it all falls apart.

I was hopeful that yesterday afternoon was different. Mac came home in a decent mood and he was happy to go get a haircut. We did homework, had a great time bantering, and it was just all going along so smoothly.

Since Jimmy wasn't getting home until late, I told him we'd eat supper in front of television, which is a rare treat here.

And then he saw that I'd made this Mexican dish that I'd dared to put corn and beans in (per the recipe) and you'd have thought that there were live roaches crawling through the dinner for the disgust that he exhibited. I told him he could pick out the beans and corn - no big deal.

I then heard something along these lines, at the top of his upset voice:
"My day has been perfect up until now, school was perfect, and then I had to come home and deal with this. You've just ruined everything."

Well alrighty then.

I'm sure our neighbors wondered what in the world was going on. Nothing to see here, people. Just another blissful Tuesday evening at Casa Story.

I stuck to my guns and said he had to taste it or he could go to bed hungry. And that for bad behavior and speaking disrespectfully to me, he would not be allowed to eat in front of the tv.

More drama. Sigh.

He ate a little plateful and shockingly, it didn't kill him (and he even admitted that it tasted good, sans corn and beans). Then he made himself two cheese quesadillas in the microwave and called it a done deal. He apologized and cleaned the table up without being asked.

He took a shower and was in the bed at 6:45pm and asleep by 7:15pm.

For being able to close the chapter of yet another bad Tuesday, I am truly thankful.

Monday, May 16, 2011

NYR 5-16-11 - table manners

Jimmy's on an overnight work trip so Mac and I rummaged through the fridge to find leftovers. He was offered spaghetti but said he'd rather have chicken noodle soup (out of the can but heated), so that's what he got. I heated up leftover chicken wings from Saturday's dinner and mashed potatoes from Friday's dinner, added some raw carrots and called it dinner.

While I was eating my chicken wings, Mac said "Mom, what is wrong with you?" I asked what he meant. He apparently thought I was eating too messily - they were chicken wings that were finger-licking messy goodness, after all - because he said "this is dinner, not a disgusting eating contest."

This from the boy who was slurping noodles out of his bowl. Do you see the irony here?

(And anybody who knows my mother knows that I have impeccable table manners. I was eating chicken wings as they were meant to be eaten.)

But for my boy thinking he can one-up me in the table manners department, I am truly thankful (for the laugh).

NYR 5-15-11 - lunch with a hot date two weeks in a row!

Mac had a playdate today so Jimmy and I enjoyed ANOTHER lunch by ourselves at a fun little restaurant, Abasto, in Usaquen. For "found" moments with Jimmy, I am truly thankful.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

NYR 5-14-11 - a day of family

Last weekend was pretty hectic - a lot of fun but fairly nonstop. So this weekend we made a conscious decision to lay low and just hang out together. Today was the epitome of a "lay low and hang out together" kind of day. We started the morning with 2 hours of tennis classes, shared between Jimmy, Mac and me. Then we ate lunch at Burger King. Then we went shopping to buy the most fabulous fire pit EVER for our terrace. Then we came home and hung out until Jimmy cooked us chicken wings. We watched one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and went to bed.

For perfect days from start to finish with my peeps, I'm truly thankful.

NYR 5-13-11 - summer weddings

Today I had a leisurely breakfast with a friend who's getting married next summer in Michigan. For fun talk of stuff like wedding colors, father-bride dance music, and how to wear her hair, I am truly thankful.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

NYR 5-12-11 - dictionaries

Today Mac told me quite offhandedly that he'd looked up "sex" in the dictionary.


You know that moment when time stops, your throat feels like it's closed up, you can't breathe, and you hear only silence pounding in your ears?

Well that was the moment I had.

I gathered my wits and asked him what he'd learned, and he told me that "sex" means whether you're a male or female.

Of course, that's what it means.

For my child only reading the first definition in the dictionary, I am enormously and profoundly grateful.

P.S. What is the protocol for getting dictionaries banned in schools?

Friday, May 13, 2011

I love Blogger again...

My missing posts are back. They might not have been as brilliant as I remembered.

normally I love Blogger...

...but today, after they came back online after fixing some serious issues these last couple days, my two most recent posts are missing (and those are the ones I can remember). Where could they be? Of course, now that they're missing, I'm pretty sure that they're the best posts I ever wrote.

Blogger posted a little note that said these missing posts (apparently and thankfully I'm not alone) were being retrieved and to sit tight. So I'm sitting tight until they re-appear. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

NYR 5-11-11 - the glass factory

Today I went with three friends to a little gem of a place in Bogota that is known as "the glass factory". I'm sure it has an official name, but when people (or at least expats) speak of "the glass factory", everybody else (or at least the other expats) know exactly where they're talking about.

I didn't go with an agenda. One friend is leaving Bogota soon and needed to get some things, so the rest of us tagged along for fun. I've only been one other time and knew that I'd find something to bring home, but I wasn't sure what.

I ended up buying this little stash - - which I intend to use with pillar candles on our terrace for a little romantic ambiance in the night. I also got an enormous, but simple, vase that I intend to use for all these gorgeous - and CHEAP - long-stem roses that Colombia is famous for.

The price of my extravagance today?

A whole $40!

I would have spent $40 on one of the pieces alone had I been shopping at Pier 1!

For another perk of life in Bogota - and for nearly having the terrace of my dreams - I am truly thankful!

this afternoon's enlightenment

Mac: You know when you rub your hands together really hard and that black stuff comes off?

Me: Yes?

Mac: What is that?

Me: Dirt.

Mac: No it's not. Do it and see what comes off your hands.

Me: (after rubbing hands furiously) I got nothing.

Mac: Never mind.

the mother's day love is already over?

This morning when I woke Mac up for school, I asked him if he'd slept well. He said he slept the same as ever and woke up tired as ever, blah, blah, blah.

Same story, different set of pajamas.

So then I asked what would make it all better. He was still laying in the bed, and he reached his arms out for a hug so I went in for a sweet cuddle (which, for the record, I get every school morning when he's still too sleepy to realize he's actually showing me affection).

Then he asked when I was going to use up my Mothers's Day coupon book. I reminded him that I'd already used up my hugs and kisses, and I asked him if he was going to be my manicurist for the "free manicure" coupon. He told me that was supposed to be for a massage and that he'd give me the massage himself.

Just when I was thinking that I had the sweetest kid in the world, he asked if I'd pay him $5 for the massage.

More proof that nothing - not even a coupon for a free manicure - is free in this world.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

NYR 5-10-11 Jimmy's in Key West and I'm not

Once again, Jimmy gets to travel to warm, sunny locales, while Mac and I stay in Bogota, where thankfully it's not rained for a number of days. (You can read here for information on the serious flooding that Colombia has experienced for months and months).

Last night's Facebook post from Jimmy said the following:

"Made it to Key West (I know, poor me) and saw an amazing sunset and had a fabulous meal, but it all really didn't matter so much as that special person is missing..."

Pretty sweet, right?

For being remembered by somebody who's eating cheeseburgers in paradise, I'm truly thankful.

NYR 5-9-11 - the bus stop

I'm not really sure what route Mac's school van takes because it seems like they're always changing the route. If we're out early enough in the morning at the bus stop, we see it come down our cross street but then it wiggles around somehow and comes down the street that our building fronts.

(And if we're out early enough to see it drive down the cross street, then I always say we're going to come out a few minutes later the next morning because they're no sense in seeing the bus drive by.)

This morning, we saw the van drive by on the cross street and I commented that maybe it was just going to do a loop at the end of the block and come right back down for Mac (which it's done before). Mac told me that wasn't the route now, but I didn't believe him so we made a little bet. We walked the short way to the end of the block to see where the van was.

Of course we didn't see the van looping back down to come pick up Mac immediately, and Mac won the bet.

In the meantime, while we were standing on the street corner (near where we've been catching the bus for the last 8.5 months) and laughing about my losing the bet, this guy who was out walking his dogs obviously thought we looked like we didn't know what bus to get on. So he directed us - in English - to the big American School bus that was stopped right at the stoplight. His children must ride that bus because he told us the number of the school bus in case that would help us get Mac on the right bus. I told him thanks, but Mac attends CGB (not CNG) and we were just looking for his van.

Then one of Mac's friends on the CNG bus opened his bus window and started hollering that Mac must have missed the school van because the CGB kids who live in his building had already left on their bus. I hollered back thanks, but Mac takes a different bus than those kids and that his bus was coming.

For so many people who are so concerned about our bus welfare, I am truly thankful. It's a wonder that I've gotten Mac on the right school bus once by myself in the last 8.5 months!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

NYR 5-8-11 - a Mother's Day to remember

Today is one of my favorite days of the whole year.

A day devoted just to mothers.

Sounds like heaven.

When we woke up this morning, Jimmy asked me what I wanted for breakfast and I chose french toast, so after lounging in the bed until I smelled coffee, I came downstairs to yummy french toast, bacon, and fresh canteloupe and pineapple. De-lish.

I told Jimmy and Mac that I didn't want a present since my blow-out birthday was just a month ago. So instead I got all these wonderful cards that Mac made in Spanish class at school. One of the cards contained a coupon book - in Spanish - for things like a free kiss, a free hug, a manicure, taking out the garbage, etc. I asked for the kiss and the hug, and Mac told me that I shouldn't waste all my coupons right away.

Then Mac looked at Jimmy and said "What you got?"

After breakfast, we had a little break before we hosted a potluck lunch at our house.

We'd originally intended to eat out a restaurant with a big group of friends (18 adults and 15 kids), but when I called 20 (no joke) restaurants, I couldn't find one single place to accommodate us. So our restaurant trip for Mother's Day turned into a potluck, which worked out great. We provided KFC fried chicken (which delivers here in Bogota so we didn't even have to leave home!) and everybody brought a side dish and/or dessert. Everything was yummy and the children could play and be noisy without getting us kicked out of a restaurant It was a great time and felt like a family Mother's Day lunch back in South Carolina.

Jimmy and Mac went out to rent a movie for late-afternoon viewing, and then we had a yummy supper of this little pasta sauce we whipped up from sundried tomatoes, lemon juice and zest, garlic and olive oil.

It was a totally divine day with my boys and our friends, and for that, I am truly thankful.

On this special day, I am also so, so, so truly thankful for my wonderful mother, a great mother-in-law, and all the mother figures who have come into my life along the way. I'm a blessed girl!

NYR 5-7-11 - a great lunch with a hot date

Mac had a birthday party this afternoon from 1-4pm, so Jimmy and I took advantage of this opportunity to eat at one of my favorite restaurants for lunch with the girls. 69 Oyster is a FABULOUS experience from start to finish and I was excited to introduce Jimmy to it.

Their tomato soup is divine - fresh tomatoes and lots of fresh basil and finished off with croutons and little chunks of mozzarella. We decided to share the soup so we could also share another appetizer of stacked grilled eggplant, grilled tomato and mozzarella slices. Truth be told, I was a little disappointed by this appetizer - I make a much better version of this, if I do say so myself.

For our entrees, we both ordered my absolutely most favorite thing there. This is honestly the best fish I've ever had in any restaurant anywhere in the world. It's a delicious piece of seared grouper that's served with this balsamic vinegar reduction that is honestly the best thing ever. 69 Oyster serves it with these french fries that are to die for and on top of a bed of sauteed zucchini ribbons. Topping the fish are these crunchy, fried green onion matchsticks. Finger-licking good, I tell you, from start to finish.

For a great lunch date with my hottie husband, I am truly thankful.

NYR 5-6-11 - a fun Friday night out

Jimmy and I had a busy Friday night, which is highly unusual for us. I went to the embassy late in the afternoon and met up with Jimmy at the Marines' Happy Hour in honor of Cinco de Mayo (a date late). We stayed there until about 8:30 and then left with a group of people to attend a birthday party at a very hip Mexican restaurant/club near our house.

Now what I need to tell you is that this group of people all went from the embassy to the restaurant in our little Toyota Corolla. Just to give you an idea of what I'm talking about in terms of numbers, it was me driving (because Jimmy never drives here), Jimmy in the front passenger seat, and 4 grown adults in the back seat.

Are you imagining a small little Toyota Corolla?

Are you imagining what was probably 950 pounds of collective weight in that car?

We were like a clown car when it came time to unload.

I laughed until I didn't think I'd stop.

For a really fun Friday night out from start to finish, I am truly thankful!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

NYR 5-5-11 - welcome to my soapbox

I have struggled with the celebrations that have been going on since bin Laden's death. Do I believe he was owed justice? Yes. Do I believe he got it? Yes. Do I need to celebrate and gloat over a person's execution? No way. But I know from reading Facebook posts and newspapers, I am in the minority on this issue. So I've kept my mouth shut and just haven't commented on anybody's posts.

This morning in the online edition of Charleston's Post and Courier newspaper, I read this article that hit the nail on the head for me.

For this writer having the ability to speak for me, I am truly thankful.

Thus endeth the soapbox lecture. Thank you.

NYR 5-4-11 - happy birthdays

Today was a friend's birthday and for her birthday present, I took her for a manicure. The place we went was kind of strange. It used to be a mens-only salon with some weirdness going on, but I got a gift card from there for my birthday and learned that it now takes women (even though its name is still Macho's. Weird, I say.).

Anyway, we went and had wonderful manicures. Women here wear lots of dark fingernail polish. Not cherry red-based, more brown or purple-based (to my untrained, unartistic eye). I decided to go native and chose a polish that looks like it could be fresh blood. It's kind of growing on me and I find myself staring at my nails for extended periods of time, which is not normal behavior for me. They're like extreme sports fingernails for me - very startling when they catch me by surprise.

After manicures, we met the rest of the gang for lunch at a French cafe where I had divine French onion soup.

I love birthdays, even when they're not mine. For getting to celebrate all kinds of birthdays with all kinds of people, I am truly thankful.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

NYR 5-3-11 - pot roast v.2

Over the weekend I made a most delicious pot roast and tonight we had leftover pot roast in the form of the most delectable sandwiches I have ever eaten. Honestly this recipe is delicious as pot roast, but heated up, shredded and put on a fresh baguette, smothered in gravy?


For a yummy sandwich that was so good that I had to eat two (!), I am truly thankful!

P.S. I am really happy that I played tennis this morning in a real class with my real teacher as that makes me feel slightly less guilty about eating two HUGE sandwiches.

NYR 5-2-11 - a teacher workday = fun

Today was a teacher workday at CGB so Mac and I had a full day of fun together. We were scheduled for back-to-back tennis lessons, but my tennis coach had strep throat so Mac and I played tennis with a friend and her son. I use the term "played" very loosely. It was a lot of wild balls and flying racquets, but the boys proved to be great ballboys. They didn't recognize that as work... yet.

Afterwards, I took Mac and his friend to eat at Subway (I know. We're living large) and to see the Disney Nature film "African Cats". The movie was dubbed in Spanish and the boys bought my story that these nature films have more "doing than talking" until about 30 seconds into the film, when they realized there was a lot more "talking that doing" and they weren't really understanding the "talking". I promised an ice cream cone if they'd just sit quietly so as not to disturb the surprising number of adults in the theater at a 1pm show on weekday. The ice cream cones seemed to erase any bad thoughts they had about seeing a movie in Spanish.

For a great day with my boy, I am truly thankful.

NYR 5-1-11 - a day of rest

For a lazy day at home where my biggest accomplishment was Magic Erasering the walls to get rid of dirty little handprints, I am truly thankful.

P.S. I know that one day I'm going to miss having little handprints to clean; however, I wasn't feeling that so much on Sunday.

NYR 4-30-11 - a blast from the past

In this very transient lifestyle we've enjoyed for the last 13 years, it's easy to feel like once we move on, we lose the friends we've made. Sort of an "out of sight, out of mind" mentality. Now I know this isn't true because we've been very lucky (with a little effort thrown in) to often run into friends we've made over the years.

Over the last week, a good friend from Guadalajara days (1999-2001!) was in Bogota with the international shipping company he works for in New Orleans. We haven't seen Mac (a different Mac than our son) since our return road trip from Guadalajara to DC when we (severely) detoured through Miami (where they'd moved) to stay with them for a few days. So it's been over 10 years since we last saw Mac and Wendy.

Until Saturday!

Mac had to work all week - funny how those business trips really are all about work - but we got to take him out for a few hours of sightseeing on Saturday and then he came over for a little dinner party/bbq on Saturday night.

You know how with some people it doesn't matter how much time passes before you reconnect? Like it seems as if you were together yesterday?

Well we could have been sitting in Guadalajara for as comfortable as our reunion was and as much fun as we had with Mac. A decade was nothing in the scheme of things.

For new friends and old friends, I am so truly thankful.

Monday, May 2, 2011

NYR 4-29-11 - the wedding

I am pretty sure I was meant to be born British. Not only British, but a monarchy loyalist, which I believe isn't all that common in Britain. I love the idea of queens and kings and princesses and fancy castles and palaces.

It should go without saying that I was very tuned in to all - and I mean all - the royal wedding news. I had the royal wedding website bookmarked and checked back constantly for late-breaking news, I checked's "Royals" tab nonstop, I devoured the articles in Vanity Fair magazine that appeared every month for the last few months, I studied photos and news articles, etc.

I could have been a commentator next to Meredith Vieira with all the information I knew.

You want to know Kate and Will's school records? Got it.

Little sister Pippa's history? Done.

The trouble that Kate's uncle got in that almost cost him an invite to the festivities? I'm your girl.

Needless to say, I wasn't going to miss a second of the coverage on Friday morning, which meant I had to get up at 3am in Bogota.


Also needless to say, nobody in my house got up with me at 3am. These are the things that you miss when you have a boy who really has no interest in fairy tale weddings between a commoner and her prince.


Thankfully my high school friend Dara was up and on Facebook throughout the festivities and she was a most excellent viewing companion - better than anybody in my house would have been had they gotten up.

I loved everything about the wedding - the dress, Kate's hair, William's uniform, the sermon, the flowers, Pippa's dress, the bridesmaids and page boys. I loved looking at Victoria Beckham's sour face and wondering if she and David had a fight on the way to the church. I loved seeing all the guests arrive in their fancy dresses and hats. (The only dresses and hats that I thought were hideous were those worn by the cousins, Eugenia and Beatrice. I don't know what they were thinking on those choices.) I loved watching the recessional in the carriage. I loved the kisses and watching the family watch the military flyover.

It was a dream wedding and I was riveted.

After it was all over, I went to a British friend's house for a little party. It wasn't a dressy party, but she and I decided to "dress up" at the last minute. Then at the very last minute, I realized I didn't have a hat (except a floppy beach hat which would surely not work for such a monumental occasion) nor did I own a fascinator.

BUT I'd just seen a piece earlier in the week on tv on making your own hats and fascinators so I went to raid our arts and crafts closet.

Then I remembered that I hate arts and crafts and that we don't actually have a well-stocked arts and crafts closet. I prayed that there might be some feathers in there for some strange reason, but it turns out no birds have landed in the closet and left behind feathers. So I had to make do with pipe cleaners. It definitely wasn't the most beautiful fascinator but a girl's got to do what a girl's got to do, right?

the hostess (with a real fascinator) and me (with my obviously homemade fascinator)

the spread which included scones, cream, and homemade-by-the-hostess bramble jam

For still believing at the ripe old age of 40 that fair tales do come true, I am truly thankful.