Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Photo: Arrival in Dulles Airport 4/9/12

So, here we go again! Our two(ish) months in the States flew by... and tomorrow (barring complications) we'll be headed south for a new adventure. 

Photo: mid-flight on Turkish Airlines

I still haven't downloaded my photos from our trip to NY to see family and stop by Cornell, but it was a good trip (albeit highly compressed!) I hope to have those up soon.

Today was a full day packing, taking care of loose ends, voting (!!! we were able to vote in person by going to the city registrar and filling out applications for absentee ballots, which they gave us then and there and we just filled them out and slid them into the counting machine). (I was super excited about that.)

More soon as time permits... almost too much to process right now!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Zoo (and Visas!)

We are very excited to have our visas to Colombia in hand! I’m still not completely sure whether or not it was necessary for us to take the kids with us to the consulate in DC, but we did, and it turned out to be a [mostly] fun family outing both last Friday when we submitted the applications, and this Wednesday when we went back to pick up the visas. Overall the whole process went smoothly, aided I’m sure by Gabriel’s dimple when he returned the restroom key for me to the woman behind the counter at the consulate.

Both days, we drove to the Metro station in Vienna, loaded the kids into the double stroller that I am SO glad I decided to bring, and made our way into DC. The kids loved riding the train (what kid doesn’t?) At the consulate, Terry entertained the kids while I interacted with the consulate staff (all in Spanish). MCC staff in the US, Canada, and Colombia all provided different pieces of instruction, advice and supporting documentation that got us through without any major hitches. We were given 2-year religious visas because MCC in Colombia works entirely through the Mennonite and Brethren churches there. (One piece of advice we were given beforehand: “dress like missionaries!”)

Since the consulate is on the same Metro line as the National Zoo, and since our kids love animals, and we’d never yet taken them, both trips then included a zoo visit. The second visit went much more smoothly than the first, to my mind, since we packed a lunch instead of waiting in a line for 45 minutes at the one cafeteria that was open like we did the first time (glacial pace + hot sun = grumpy mommy), only to get extremely expensive fried-and-over-salted food that was not very good anyway. So, word to the wise when you visit the zoo: PACK A LUNCH!

The kids’ favorite part of the zoo was the small mammal house. Valerie’s favorite animal there was the armadillo, trotting around on its little wee feet, though she was also a big fan of the meerkats. Gabriel could not be torn away from the naked mole rats scurrying blindly through clear plastic tunnels. Terry enjoyed making other zoo visitors laugh with his off-the-cuff humor (“Don’t you think those naked mole rats look exactly like Grandpa?” or “We’re going to play a game called Let’s Sit Quietly
For a Long Time”), and I enjoyed being outdoors and getting to look at amazing animals FOR FREE!

We have three weeks left in the US before our next big move and it just dawned on me that soon I’ll have to start thinking about packing again. I’m so glad and thankful for all the different pieces coming together. 

Wednesday, October 03, 2012


It's been a crazy two weeks here since Terry got back... but good, in most ways. We're trying to cram so much into the time that we have. A lot of that time, though, is spent doing fun things with the kids - doing the rounds at nearby parks, visiting the Children's Museum about twice a week, going to the Farmer's Market, watching ducks.

And my sister and her two girls came to visit for a WHOLE WEEK! It was such a marked change from the last time we saw each other a year and four months ago - this time the kids really played together and she and I were able to have real, prolonged, in-depth conversations. Not without interruption, of course, but we could focus enough on what each other was saying to have some really satisfying times together.

(My camera and I got caught in the rain and now the shutter won't open all the way...)

And it was awesome watching the kids interact. There's nothing quite like cousins who are close in age. No other playmates develop quite the same vibe, I think. The first night after the cousins went back to their hotel, Valerie just sat staring out the window sadly, and every morning she would ask (in Albanian) "Ku është Solana? Ku ështe Lotus? Ku është Aunt Anita?" Gabriel was always ready to bestow hugs and kisses (which inevitably culminated with somebody - or everybody - getting knocked down). So it was awesome (chaotic, but awesome). And thanks to Dot for accommodating the extra chaos around the house!

The same day they left, I also left for my first trip ever away from Gabriel!!!!!!!! I was in Winnipeg for two days visiting the MCC Canada offices, since they fund the MCC programs in Colombia. It was a good time to meet a lot of people and get re-oriented to different facets of the work. Many MCC structures and procedures have changed quite a bit since my previous volunteer term (1995-1999 in Bolivia), plus in the country representative (director) role Terry and I will be handling new responsibilities. So it was a good visit.

I also got to see a good friend from MCC Bolivia days, Jodi Read (Hi Jodi!) whose PhD research overlaps a good bit with mine - related to the US/Mexico border - so that was a lot of fun (it would have been a lot of fun even if our research interests didn't overlap at all) ;-) and she showed me around the Forks area of Winnipeg which is super, super cool and I highly recommend you check it out sometime if you get the chance.

I will have to say that I did not realize prior to this trip how much milk Gabriel was still getting from me. *****Breastfeeding content ahead****** but it quickly became clear to me after about 12 hours that I had severely underestimated that, and I spent most of the trip in a LOT of pain as a result. I didn't have a pump with me, or really much opportunity or space for hand-expressing, but I did what I could and mostly just had to grin and bear it. Whenever we do get around to weaning (and since this is my last baby I'm not in a huge hurry) it will hopefully be a much more gradual process because wow. I have never felt so much sympathy for cows that miss a milking. Nor so happy to see my little calf again. Moo.