Thursday, December 19, 2013

Year in Review, more or less

As we draw close to the end of the calendar year, our family has passed the 1-year milestone in Colombia. It's been quite a year. The first year of school for the kids, the first year for Terry and I working in this job, living in Bogotá... a lot has happened. The other day someone mentioned to me something that happened in March and I couldn't believe it has been 8 months, it felt like 2 months ago.

I'd say that overall it's been a good year. A year full of learning. Not, sadly, a year full of blogging... I think I was just too busy.

Highlights of 2013 for our family:

  • Kids starting preschool in February (and finishing their first year last Friday!)
  • Gabriel getting potty trained in April
  • My food revolution in May
  • Albania vacation in July 
  • Valerie losing her first tooth in October
  • My 2 weeks in Guatemala in Oct/Nov - the longest I've been away from the kids

It's hard for me to form an overall mental picture of this past year. It's been an incredibly full one, with so many changes. So I conclude with some recent photos from family outings and home.

 (still not sure where the giant Christmas lizards come into the picture.... but the overall effect was pretty!)

Thursday, November 07, 2013

40 hours

In about 40 hours I'll be home, assuming Saturday's travel all goes well. Right now I'm wrapping up 2 weeks of a program evaluation process as part of a team of three. The lead evaluator is a guy who lives in Nicaragua and worked with MCC there in some way shape or form for about 12 years; prior to that he went to our church in the US and we know his family well. The other man on our team is the local counterpart, a seasoned veteran of NGO work and of the armed conflicts in this country. Our task has been to give feedback to the new country directors of MCC Guatemala/El Salvador on a few keys points, as well as a general assessment of the health of the program and team here.

It's been an absolutely fascinating process - and exhausting - and I've learned a ton. It might have made more sense for Terry to be here than me, given his expertise in evaluation, but I think I was a better (more balancing) fit for this particular evaluation team. I'm definitely ready to be home, though. I miss my family and my team in Bogotá.

Terry has been bravely holding down the fort with help from his parents; there was a lot going on this week including submitting a thick file of paperwork as we apply for Valerie's admission to a new school (for next year), trips to the dentist, canceled field trips due to rain, etc. etc. I have a sneaking suspicion he's going to be glad to see me on Saturday!

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

2 days in El Salvador

This is a coffee farm owned by a church that partners with MCC. The idea is to resettle up to 200 families whose homes were destroyed by Hurricane Ida. It's a work in progress!

This clinic is part of an integrated development project that MCC partners with near the capital. 
 The guy on the left is our driver, Raul. He helps make the many hours in the MCC truck pass quickly!
We're now back in Guatemala City and have three more days before I get to go home to Bogotá and be with Terry and the kids again. It's been an incredible journey here, I wouldn't have missed it for anything. It occurs to me I never explained on the blog what I'm doing here - I think I'll save that for the next post!

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Friday, October 11, 2013

Park Day!

We stayed at this park for like 4 hours yesterday - if we had packed a lunch we could have stayed two hours more I think!

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

This Milestone Feels Like a Big Deal

Look - just look at those two precious teeth! Remember all the chewing, the drooling, the restless nights as they emerged from the gums? 

Look at this little 5-and-a-half-year-old girl, so grown up in her ladybug boots and pigtails 

Valerie lost her first tooth Monday morning while eating an apple at breakfast. She had noticed it wiggling the Friday night before and was utterly distraught. She got used to it, though - following our normal routines seemed to be reassuring - but then when it came out she just burst into tears. It took a lot of cheering and celebrating from her dad and I before she calmed down. We put the tooth carefully away in a small container with a lid, labeled very clearly. She is fascinated by the new look of her mouth and likes showing the gap to people because they get all excited for her.

My beautiful daughter. She is growing up so fast.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Urgent Action

It's been a hectic couple of weeks and blogging, once again, got away from me. We've been fairly preoccupied with a crisis involving one of our partner organizations on the Caribbean Coast (these photos are all from my visit there last November). In  nutshell, a community leader and organizer who has worked for decades to promote non-violent social change is under threat, and another has been imprisoned.

I remember as a young(er) person, staying with my Grandma Beth in NY, and seeing her at her desk late at night writing letters for Amnesty International. As a budding social activist type I remember feeling so impressed and so proud of her. Now I feel grateful - to her and to the many people who take time for this kind of action. It might not seem like it makes much of a difference, but it can - the difference between life and death.

I won't try to explain the whole story here - in fact, there are aspects of the story that cannot at this time be made public because to do so would put people's lives in further danger. I've been spending most of my work time in the past 10 days working with an amazing network of people (who understand much more than I do about the situation and about international advocacy processes) to discern what exactly can and should be said, and to whom, and via what means, under a strong sense of urgency to have it all done three days ago.

So here are some good things to read:

It's been incredibly humbling and moving to see the responses beginning to flood in. Like over 1500 signatures collected online already. Ricardo is a dearly beloved and greatly respected in peacebuilding circles around the world. And in Colombia.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Wow, I have been awol. Despite my best intentions I never seem to find the time to blog. So here are some photos of the kids and other random stuff from the past month 

We got that reindeer headband in a White Elephant gift exchange last Christmas and she wore it to school 3 days in a row last week.

Here she is on her way to her first sleepover away from home without us! It was a school trip to the Farm.

This is G playing outside the school while we wait for V to come back from her overnight.

And this is right after we picked her up! She had so much fun.

G is such a goofball!

Giant ginger root I found at the local grocery store... This is one single root!!!

I walk past this mural on the way to work every day, I think it is so cool. I have a lot of other photos of it on Facebook.

Building a "house" out of eucalyptus branches and playground equipment. Look how long V's hair is!