Friday, May 29, 2015

Birthday photo

Since I finally uploaded these photos off my camera, here's a picture of Valerie's birthday! We kept the same motif of happy face balloons and candles. Poor Gabriel was feeling so sick still. The big gift was the Lego set you can see on the floor. We also had fruit kebabs and lots of snacks.

Thursday, May 28, 2015


This is a totally self-indulgent post (but then, aren't they all?)
I just got back from a week in the US to celebrate my PhD graduation!

It finally feels real... 

9 years, 3 continents, 2 babies, 1 degree.

Looking back, it seems like a crazy thing to have undertaken. But when I look at each separate decision along the way, I'm not sure I would have chosen differently at any of those points. I do think, though, I was very naive going into the writing stage as to what that would take to finish. 

This looks like individual achievement, but it depended on support from so many people in absolutely critical ways. My parents, my in-laws, Terry, Rosanne... friends in the department, Shpresa.

My grandparents got married in this very room! 

(Most of the photos above are from the commencement ceremony on Sunday the 24th; the last one is from the Anthropology department reception recognition ceremony.)

Finished. Finally.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Some Words

I tend to build posts around photos, which makes the "photos" label a little redundant, but since my camera cable is at the office and I'm at home, I'll just write a bit instead today.

We're having a quiet holiday at home; it's Ascension Day (39 days after Easter) and a national holiday in this most Catholic of countries. For those keeping track, Colombia has 18 national holidays a year, and often they are observed on a Monday or Friday - called "puentes," or bridges - in order to create long weekends. I think there are only one or two months in the year that have no holidays, and June has three. (Terry complains about this all the time because he finds the office more restful than being at home. And we never go places because traffic is about 3x worse than normal on holiday weekends, and normal here is pretty obnoxious.)

Anyway, it's been really nice to have this day off because I was sick as a dog yesterday, and Gabriel was recovering from a 5-day bout with some stomach bug. I was glad to have only one day of it and I feel pretty much back to normal today, a little light-headed but basically fine. Poor G. was in bad shape though - stomach cramps, throwing up, diarrhea... glad he's back to normal too.

Friday we celebrated Valerie's birthday with a few friends, although three of the four kids we invited weren't able to come so it was a small group. But we had balloons and presents and cake and pizza and she was happy. She's thrilled to be seven now and Gabe is just counting the days until his birthday.

Wednesday I'm going to the States for my PhD graduation, just a quick there-and-back-again trip. It feels like a real celebration and I'm very happy to be able to go!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Year in Review

Valerie is turning SEVEN tomorrow! Here is a series of some of my favorite photos from the past year.
First day of big-kid school, May 2014

Favorite dress + favorite pastime!

Playing dress-up in Mama's skirt

Minutes after getting her hair cut! The pin was from Great-grandma Beth P.

Grinning with delight at a new dress-up dress

Enjoying cookies and hot chocolate at the local bakery

New Christmas dress and shoes

The Pirate Fairy - this dress was a gift from Grammy Dot!

Snow days in Harrisonburg - Grandma Irma made this dress!

This is STILL her favorite dress...! 
At this age she LOVES wearing dresses and playing dress-up. She thrives on being physically active but is also balancing that with great intellectual growth, grasping concepts quickly. Spanish has been a challenge this year, being in a 100% Spanish school, but I'm thrilled with how much she is learning.  She has 8 permanent teeth, and is tall for her age. She is able to help out with a lot of things around the house now and does so ably. It is a delight watching her grow!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

More Knitting

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I made these to match the poncho/wrap thing I made before. 

This sock is a story. The yarn is from Tara, and I combined 3 different balls for the pattern. But while I love the way the colors come together, I think I'm going to have to rip it out and rethink the whole thing. For one thing both the toe and heel (short row style) are way too pointy. But more than that, the 3 yarns are totally different in terms of, well, everything. They're all sock yarn but the blue feels like it has linen in it, the tan is straight up wool (I think), and the multicolor one might have silk in it, based on the feel. So the stretch, weight, and even thickness varies enough that I just don't think it will wear well at all. So while I like the way the colors combine I don't think this one has legs. It was fun to knit it though and I learned a thing or two so not a complete waste of time! 

Thursday, May 07, 2015


Over the long weekend (May 1 was Labor Day here and in most of the world) we went to a workshop in Chinauta. It's not far from Bogotá but it's a LOT warmer.

Profusions of birds flew from tree to tree and all over the grounds.

The kids spent pretty much the whole time in or near the pool (Terry was working but I was just along for the ride this time). They have both mastered the dog paddle and it's fun to see them actually swimming!

I think the mountain there is a protected natural area. We are thinking of doing a team retreat here sometime and maybe organizing a hike up there.

Teacher's Strike

This was what we saw on the way to our office yesterday, all the way down to the university. 

I have to admit I feel a little apprehensive whenever I see riot police around, particularly because this street is just a couple blocks from our kids' schools, but everything was peaceful in the end.

The public school teachers have been on strike for a few weeks. They are severely underpaid, and the infrastructure is severely underfunded. This is particularly frustrating when government officials in the ministry of education make exorbitant salaries.

This morning while walking Gabe to preschool we passed a bus and a group of people standing around; I heard two women address each other as "compañera" ("companion" or "comrade"), and based on how they were dressed and other cues I figured they had been part of the strike yesterday; so I asked one of the women if they were marching again today. "No," she said. "They sold us out yesterday so now we're going home."

Everyone who can afford to here sends their kids to private schools. As do we. For those who can afford them, there are incredible schools in this city - schools with links to the top universities in the world, fully bilingual education, equipped with baby grand pianos and ballet classes. It's sobering to see the vast gulf between those elite institutions and the bare cinderblock walls and overcrowding of the poorest schools.

It seems like the main aim of the police yesterday was to protect the Transmilenio system and keep it running. I was thankful that when I went to pick up Gabe from school there was no tear gas to contend with. I fully support the aims of this march. Inequality in education just reproduces inequality in society, and traps people in unjust systems.