Tuesday, August 30, 2011

NYR 8-30-11 - my visit to the dentist

Today I saw the (scary per Mac) Dra. Marcela. She really is such a nice woman and I don't know why he's scared to go see her. Except that she found two little holes/chips in my teeth.


I wear my mouthguard (almost) every night to prevent grinding and I take better care of my teeth than nearly anybody I know.

And I have two teeny little holes?

So I go back next week to have resin applied to the holes to prevent cavities.

For the holes not turning into cavities yet, I am truly thankful.

NYR 8-29-11 - illness and the tooth fairy

This morning Mac woke up with a raging sore throat. When I did my medical routine (flashlight looking down the hatch), I saw a red, puffy throat. Not knowing anymore how strep looks at our house (since it's looked different on the three occasions it's graced us with its presence), I hauled him into the health unit at the embassy.

There's a new doctor there and this was our first run with him.

The verdict? We love him!

He presented an entirely new approach to how we've been seen and it was very refreshing. Not only did Mac not have strep, but we got him on a new allergy medicine that worked its magic nearly instantly.

I then took Mac back to school since he wasn't contagious and don't you know that he went on to lose a tooth at school. He hasn't lost a tooth in 2.5 years (I know, I keep records of these things) so it was pretty exciting stuff.

For no strep and the tooth fairy making her appearance, I am truly thankful.

Monday, August 29, 2011

NYR 8-28-11 - lunch

Today we hosted a lunch for some new folks in the embassy. The weather cooperated perfectly for the eating part, so we could enjoy our terrace for a couple hours which doesn't happen all that often here in the BOG. Once the wind and intermittent rain drove us in, we had a houseful of children and adults but everybody seemed to have such a nice time. There's a nice new crop of friendly folks here and for that, I am truly thankful.

NYR 8-27-11 - new babies and pink blankets

Today I visited with our friends who had a new baby girl while we were home on vacation. The sweet little thing is perfect and tiny and beautiful. For an hour of holding a baby and visiting with friends, I am truly thankful.

NYR 8-26-11 - support on a really bad day

Today was one of those days when surely the world at large and I in particular would have been much better served had I just stayed in bed all day with the covers pulled up. But because I got out of bed and things went so quickly south, we were not all better served.

For having a mom who believes I'm pretty amazing and for having friends who are firmly in my corner, I am so truly thankful.

NYR 8-25-11 - pick-up tennis

My tennis class was cancelled so a friend and I had a pick-up game which was a ton of fun and laughs and for that, I am truly thankful.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

today's dilemma

We have an apartment building right next door to us that was finished and has become increasingly occupied during our one-year tenure on Calle 85. A few months ago, the people that live at eye level with our second floor moved in. They're a young couple, baby and about 2 maids and a nanny. They don't have a balcony on their apartment so we don't hear any noise from them (unlike their first-floor neighbors who throw loud parties on their balcony until the wee hours). But when I open my curtains in our bedroom in the morning, I can see across our balcony into their kitchen. And heaven forbid, I go out on the balcony in my pajamas to do something like water the plants because their maids look at me like I've sprouted an extra head. We are very close neighbors.

I don't know the layout of their apartment, but I do know where the kitchen and the master bathroom are. I know the kitchen because it's right by our balcony. And I've learned where the master bathroom is the hard way.

A few months ago, we hosted a going-away party and our neighbor lady provided quite the show. She likes to change her clothes right in front of the window of (what I assume is) the master bathroom (because the toilet is in the next little room over - no curtain there either so the throne is on full display). Friends who were at the party got quite an eyeful from the neighbor woman and subsequently dubbed her "Rackosaurus". A single guy friend even offered to be Mac's full-time babysitter just so he could stare out the window waiting for Rackosaurus to spring into action.

Lest you think we're perverts, waiting for a show, we really are just close neighbors. They have a flat-screen tv on their kitchen wall and I can tell you what show the maids are watching. We're that close. Last night as we were finishing dinner on our first floor, I saw movement in their window (a floor above where we were), looked across, over Jimmy's head and could see her taking her shirt off. Right there, smack dab in front of the window. And we have sheers on all our windows so I could see what was going on through the sheers.

I've come up with a few theories. She's either 1) newly moved from the country to the city and doesn't realize you have to behave differently when people can look right in your window; 2) she thinks she's got an "I can see you, but you can't see me" mirror/glass on that particular window (and she really doesn't); 3) she's stupid; or 4) she's an exhibitionist.

Assuming she's not #4, the thought crossed my mind that I should go tell her building doorman that she needs to change clothes elsewhere. But that would be embarrassing for me, for him and potentially for her, hearing the news from him.

Then I thought I could write her a note, asking her politely to change clothes elsewhere, and ask her portero to deliver it. But then she'd know it was us because who else would be able to see her at eye level and that would be embarrassing and I'd never be able to look in their kitchen again.

Then I thought I could go on the balcony one morning and motion for the maids to open the kitchen windows and I could try to explain the situation to them. But I don't know if their windows open and I'd look like a moron flapping my arms around.

I really don't know the solution to this problem but it needs to be stopped before the wrong people see it. Jimmy has a work event at our house on Friday afternoon. The guests will (hopefully) long be gone before she starts undressing, but can you imagine the horror of a night-time work function (which is when you can clearly see right in) and some big-shot minister of some government agency sees her disrobe. How embarrassing.

So what do I do? How do I solve this problem? Any thoughts would be most appreciated.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

update on the fish

One-word update: deceased.

Longer update: I managed to keep that second fish (after he ate the first fish) alive for 7 months. I left Jimmy in charge of it and within 2 weeks, the fish was dead. He offered no explanation as to what happened, but he didn't even have the common sense to hide the tank. So after we flew home on Friday night, he and Mac ate sandwiches at our little breakfast bar, and Mac saw the tank (sans water, sans fish) and naturally asked "where's the fish?".

Wouldn't you have hidden the tank at a minimum in the hopes that everybody forgot about the fish over 7 weeks?

When Ruth came to work on Monday, she told me that the only mishap during our absence was the fish's death. She wondered if she shouldn't have gone out to buy a replacement fish? How sweet is that?

But thankfully she didn't and now we're officially, once again, happily pet-free.

RIP Mike/Nick #2.

NYR 8-24-11 - tired body

After two days of back-to-back tennis classes, I am one tired, sore puppy. Both classes were great in small part to the fantastic new racquet I bought to replace the 400 year-old racquet I've been playing with and in large part, I'm sure, to my two tennis outings with high school friend, Dara, while I was home!:)

(Dara, this is a test to make sure you're keeping up-to-date on the blog!).

For a return to tennis, I am truly thankful.

a tricky mission

Last week, Jimmy participated in a very atypical and very dangerous mission. You can read the gist of it here but hearing him tell the story is better than reading this article. He got a very nice email from Mr. Radley yesterday that brought tears to my eyes to read. All's well that ends well.

P.S. Make sure you look at the 7-photo slideshow on the left. Some great photos!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

P.S. to today's NYR

Mac come home from school SOOOO happy. He was pretty happy about everything (except school lunch which was a continuing burr in my side last year). His teacher made them each a brown bag that contained all the "symbols" of their class. I LOVED IT (and I love her for doing it)! The note on the bag listed the symbols:

For a great first day back at school, I am truly thankful.

NYR 8-23-11 - first day of third grade

Today Mac went off to school to start the third grade. That seems pretty old, doesn't it? He was pretty excited, I think, although the 5:55am wake-up was shocking for him.

It's a rainy day here in Bogota, but Jimmy and Mac still manage to look muy guapo!

For going "back to school", I am truly thankful!

NYR 8-22-11 - the semiannual dentist checkup

Mac went to see Dra. Marcela today for his 6-month teeth cleaning and check-up. Mac loves his dentist in Charleston, but Dra. Marcela does a much better cleaning and she doesn't rip off our insurance company, so I decided that instead of seeing the Charleston dentist when we were home (at the 6-month mark), we'd wait to see Dra. Marcela upon our return (at the 7-month mark).

Mac isn't Dra. Marcela's biggest fan. She doesn't give toys out at the end of the visit and she lectures him constantly about flossing and brushing better. She also cleans her own patients' teeth. No dental hygienist doing the dirty work for her. No sirree. And she really gets in there. There is nary a particle of plaque left when she's done. And when you don't floss daily or brush as well as you should, there's a lot of plaque to scrape out.

For surviving another 6-month check-up with Dra. Marcela and having nice, clean teeth (and no cavities!) to show for it, I am truly thankful. (I have my appointment with Dra. Marcela next Tuesday. Wish me luck!)

Monday, August 22, 2011

NYR 8-21-11 - old friends!

This afternoon Mac went over to a friend's house for a playdate. They ended up going to the park and since Jimmy was out and about, he went by the park to see what they were doing. He called me and said I had to come to the park because everybody was there. And everybody was there. It was a beautiful day in Bogota and the park was packed with locals and embassy folks.

For a great time catching up with "old" friends, I am truly thankful.

NYR 8-20-11 - new friends

While Mac and I were gone, Jimmy hung out a lot with some other husbands/dads whose families either left for the summer like us or hadn't gotten to Bogota yet. Now that everybody's back, one of the new families hosted a cookout for all of us to meet everybody. One of the boys is in Mac's grade at CGB and they had a ball playing together, and I loved meeting new people!

For new friends, I am truly thankful.

NYR 8-19-11 - Delta Airlines

As you may remember, I have had a hate/hate relationship with Delta Airlines. The dregs of society used to work for Delta in the Charleston airport and therefore my trips always (ALWAYS!) started off on the wrong foot because of some surly woman who for instance, made me give up 3 pounds of black-eyed peas when we were going back to Mozambique after Mac's birth. We were hauling 300 pounds of luggage back and 3 pounds really made a difference? Really? Didn't she know I was hormonal and suffering from mastitis and was taking my precious 5 week-old back to the heart of Africa and I NEEDED THOSE PEAS FOR MY TRADITIONAL NEW YEAR'S LUNCH THE DAY AFTER WE LANDED??????

But I digress.

I am very happy to report that there have been some changes at the Delta counter in Charleston and the new employees at least have to know how to work their smile muscles. I knew that one of our suitcases was over 50 pounds but I decided I'd make adjustments at the airport. The lady was very nice and didn't even make me get down to exactly 50. Can you believe it?

We had a great flights from Charleston to Atlanta and Atlanta to Bogota. We even had individual entertainment centers on the flight out of Atlanta! I got to watch two whole, uninterrupted movies of my choice while Mac watched his movies.

For a greatly improved Delta experience, I am truly thankful.

NYR - skipping ahead to catch up

I know you, reader, don't necessarily feel the same angst as I do over not keeping up with my New Year's Resolution daily postings, but it's weighing heavily on me. Last year's NYR - running a half-marathon - was never going to happen and I pretty much knew that as I was dreaming it up, but this year's NYR was - and still is - very doable. But right now, I just need to start with the last couple days and add in those missing few weeks over the next few days. Otherwise, I'm never going to write anything down because my neglect is weighing me down so heavily. Sorry for the jumping around!

In other news, yesterday Jimmy, Mac and I were going to ride our bikes and were stopped at the corner by our apartment, waiting for the light to change. As we stood there, an SUV, a police motorcycle (with his lights on), and another car following the motorcycle pulled up. We thought somebody was getting pulled which doesn't happen all that much around these parts so we settled in to watch the action. Well faster than we knew what was happening, the policeman jumped off his bike, a guy jumped out of the follow car and they all rushed to the back door of that lead SUV. Two people jumped out and the guy we then identified as a bodyguard (from the follow car) hustled those two people into that building faster than you can imagine.

WHO WERE THOSE PEOPLE? If I knew they lived there and weren't just visiting, I'd stake out a spot across the street to maintain my lookout post until I figured out who these VIPs are (or until I was arrested for stalking).

Sunday, August 21, 2011

NYR 7-24 through 7-29 - a week in the cool mountains

7-24: We arrived in Maggie Valley, NC at Jimmy’s mom’s vacation place and knew the first thing we wanted to do on our first day there was go tubing in Deep Creek. My family used to go tubing there when we were little and I knew Mac would love it as much as I did. And I wasn’t wrong!
For passing on some of my treasured childhood memories to my child, I am truly thankful.

7-25: Today Jimmy, Mac and I went with Jimmy’s stepfather to Cataloochee Valley which is one of the most beautiful, peaceful places I’ve ever seen in the United States.
The valley was populated over 100 years ago and now is just a lovely protected piece of history and beauty. We saw an elk, lots of turkeys, and some butterflies as well as some houses, barns, church, and school from the original settlement. For a chance to live for a few hours that “Little House on the Prairie” lifestyle that I always wanted as a child, I am truly thankful.

7-26: After my catastrophic rafting experience in Colombia over the Memorial Day weekend, I have sworn off whitewater rafting for awhile longer or maybe forever. But Jimmy and Mac went to raft the Nantahala today with Jimmy’s nieces. They had a ball and assured me I could have done it in my sleep but I much preferred drinking my strawberry smoothie and reading a book, both of which caused no panic attacks like the rafting probably would have!
For my boys having a great time on the river, I am truly thankful.

7-27: Jimmy, Mac and I went on an amazing hike on the Blue Ridge Parkway today. Beautiful stream with waterfalls and a natural swimming hole, fresh air and good exercise. For that, I am truly thankful.

We also went into Cherokee for the evening. The major objective was to see “Unto These Hills”, an outdoor production that’s been going on for 60+ years to chronicle the history of the Cherokee Indians, particularly around the time of the Trail of Tears. But because it’s the touristy town of Cherokee and there are a million ways to part you from your money, Jimmy and Mac went gem mining. I’m still waiting for all those rubies and sapphires and emeralds to be made into something to adorn my ears and fingers…

7-28: Today we took a final trip to Deep Creek which didn’t end so well for one of Jimmy’s nieces who ended up at the hospital with a big toe broken in four places. Jimmy, Mac and I enjoyed ourselves immensely. For another afternoon on a brilliant day in the cool water, I am truly thankful.

7-29: For a send-off breakfast of blueberry pancakes at Joey’s Pancake House, which was one of my dad’s favorite restaurants in the mountains, I am truly thankful.

NYR 7-23-11

On our drive from Northern Virginia to Maggie Valley, North Carolina, we stopped off at Barrel Oak Winery in Delaplane, Virginia to see the fruits of labor of two of Jimmy’s Georgetown classmates. A few years ago, chasing a dream of the wife to become a winemaker, they bought a piece of property an hour outside of DC. They dug in the dirt, drove post holes in, and planted grapes. They also built a fabulous building for tastings, storage, etc. The place is amazing and beautiful and I urge you to visit.

For folks who go out on a limb to chase their dreams and actually make their dreams come true by good old-fashioned hard work, I am truly thankful.

P.S. After we left the winery, we drove on I-81 for what seemed like days to get to North Carolina. We’d just gotten on 81 in what is a very residential, suburban area and a black bear came ambling across the interstate. We’re talking a major interstate highway. Jimmy saw it coming out of the median and swerved on the shoulder of the road to avoid contact. Can you imagine how we would have sounded to Hertz had we called and told them we’d hit a black bear in northern Virginia with their rental car?

NYR 7-17 through 7-22 - a week in DC

I am truly thankful...

7-17: for safe road trips and happy reunions and dinner at P.F. Chang’s

7-18: for visits to the Capitol, Library of Congress, Botanic Gardens, Air and Space Museum, and American History Museum (and air conditioning in each of those places) AND for a meal at Ben’s Chili Bowl that didn’t induce a heart attack

7-19: for discovering a new favorite restaurant in Washington, DC - Founding Farmers – that you simply MUST eat at the next time you’re there. Plan your meal in advance here.

7-20: for visits to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (money, money, money!) and the National Cathedral; a fabulous lunch at one of my old favorites Café Deluxe; a sobering but educational visit to the National Holocaust Museum; and a delicious dinner with old friends at a great Vietnamese restaurant

7-21: for surviving a really HOT visit to the National Zoo and yet another visit to the International Spy Museum and I can't remember what else because it was so stinking hot

7-22: for a White House tour (which I always love) after waiting outside for about 40 minutes on what was the hottest day in Washington, DC on record since something like 1926 (121 with the heat index) AND living to tell the tale (although I don’t think my sweat glands will ever be the same); for a light, refreshing lunch of a tomato salad at the Old Ebbitt Grill (perfect for a hot summer day); for a lovely late-afternoon visit to the Lincoln, Korean War, World War 2, and Vietnam War Memorials

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Letters from me

Dear Blog: I have neglected you and I am terribly sorry. There's just so much from the summer for which I am thankful for my new year's resolution of an "attitude of gratitude". I promise to catch up on 5 weeks (!) really soon. Love, ME

Dear South Carolina Drivers: You may be the most inconsiderate and poor lot of drivers that I have ever seen. Do you not realize that you are driving tons of heavy metal that cannot stop on a dime when you're riding my back bumper and I have to stop for whatever reason but you're not paying attention because you're too busy looking down at your text messages? And the driver of that car that came to a screeching stop this morning before running a red light and barreling into my car? THANKS A LOT. Drive the speed limit in the 35 mph zone, pay attention, and maybe you'd see the light before you're going under it. Oh, and although I have a different rental car now and no longer am driving the one with a license plate from New York, I get it that you don't like cars from NY and by association, their drivers. I know you think I'm "from off", but I'd go toe to toe with you in a battle to see whose family tree roots run deepest in South Carolina dirt. So stop looking at every driver in a car with plates "from off" like they're the devil incarnate and stop waving your hands around in the car behind me to try and speed me along. On principle, and to teach you bad drivers a lesson, I'm now a devotee of driving the speed limit. Love, Me

Dear Sweat Glands: Wow, have you worked hard this summer. After nearly a year in Bogota where the temperature is usually a cool 65 with no humidity, you'd gotten out of practice of doing your job. And then I dropped you into a sticky, sweaty inferno with record-breaking temps that went on for record-breaking lengths of time. I think you have rid my body in 7 weeks of everything that it's been harboring from your lack of use over the last 11 months. Thank you. I'm leaving the sticky, sweaty inferno tomorrow for perennial spring, so you can go back into hibernation. Your service has been greatly appreciated. Love, Me

Dear Bogota: I am ready to go home. Vacation has been tons of fun but it's hard to be in vacation mode for 7 weeks. I know you don't believe me, but it's true. Try it. I'm looking forward to normalcy and routines and cooking dinner and tennis class. See you tomorrow night. Love, Me