Wednesday, January 29, 2014

January Weather

The weather here lately has been manic.

The mornings are sunny, hot in fact, with the Andean sun beating down on you at 8,000+ feet above sea level. The sun's rays are nothing short of piercing, and quasi-albino individuals like myself have to stay well covered or slathered in sun block.

I never run in the mornings for fear I will burst in to flames.

The afternoons bring ominous, black clouds, full of surprises.
Sometimes they do nothing.
Sometimes it rains.
Sometimes it pours.
And sometimes we get thunder, lightening, and hail!

Yesterday's clouds brought a massive hail storm, one that we just missed being caught in at the park by about 30 seconds!

I love this weather. It is dramatic, exciting, challenging. You never know what you're going to get.

And the calm after the storm is always worth it.

Playing in the sunshine, but with the clouds rolling in
(maybe 10 minute before the hail hit)

Right after I took this picture we ran home and
the hail started right as we got back!

The view from our apartment right after the storm... Beautiful.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Holidays: Merry Christmas from the Equator!

I'm not sure if many of you have come to the realization yet that I am the only expat in my family. Arturo was born here, Kesha was born here, and Kalah was born here. I was not.

Holidays are the hardest time to be an expat and the time when I feel most alone.

Don't get me wrong, the traditions, the activities, the food and festivities are all wonderful. But there's a reason the song "I'll be Home for Christmas" was written. It's always hard to be away from where you're from because if you're not there it's just not the same.

Rather than dwell on the fact that I didn't go to the US during the winter holidays this year, I'm going to share a bit about local traditions and customs here in Ecuador (well, at least in Cuenca, where I live).

Christmas here is a completely religious holiday. No Santa. No reindeer. Lots of lights and lots of Baby Jesus.

The 24th in the morning brings a parade celebrating the passage of Mary and Joseph to the manger in Bethlehem where Jesus was born, called Pase del Niño Viajero.  This specific Pase del Niño is an all day event and is well worth watching (at least a bit of it). You can see such parades throughout the months of December and January, but the parade on the 24th is by far the biggest.

The eve of the 24th families gather together to celebrate with a Christmas dinner followed by a midnight mass. We let Kesha open her big present the afternoon of Christmas eve day. She got a kitchen, something we have been talking about getting her for a long time. Thanks to my parents we were able to splurge and get her one (thank you Nana and Grandpa!). She was very excited, to say the very least (look at that face!).

Late in the evening we had our turkey dinner (hosted by my mother-in-law), exchanged a few small gifts, then went home and to bed.

Since my family has always been a Christmas morning family, we opted to open the presents my parents mailed to the girls on Christmas morning. It was very fun and low key.

As a plug for reading to young children (you're welcome mom), every year my mom does "A Book on Every Bed" for the girls. You wrap a new book (it can be checked out from the library) and put it a the foot of the kids' beds while they sleep. It is the first present they open on Christmas morning. I won't go in to detail here, but please do take a look at the program's website and consider doing it with your kids (or grandkids)!

Although this Christmas was different (even Kesha will tell you that it's cold and snows at Christmas time... not 100 degrees hahaha different realities are so interesting) it was wonderful. I truly enjoyed our quiet little Christmas. However, I am still dying inside that we didn't get a Santa picture for Kalah's first Christmas (dying inside... DYING!!!)

Again, I realize this post is over a month late, as is my holiday greeting, but Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Welcome 2014!

I read someone's blog where they talked about a list to complete during 2014 rather than resolutions. Although it's a cool concept, let's be real, goals are goals wether you call them resolutions or you call them tasks. They are thing you have not yet accomplished that you would like to do, right? But, that is not the point. The point is a new year, a new me, a new focus. A chance to be better than I was last year.

This year seems to be the year our family is doing "visual lists" so I am going to snatch this "to do list" idea up and follow suit. I will have a hand written list on my fridge of what I would like to accomplish in 2014. The items I picked are concrete. Doable (at least in my mind they are doable, we shall see if they pan out in real life).

Here is my list!

  1. Write down my "to do" list, decorate it, and put it on the fridge
  2. Do something for myself every single day, no matter how small
  3. Blog at least 2 times per month every month for the year
  4. Learn to use my new camera
  5. Maintain our no technology after 6pm rule all year (weekends and holidays are an exception)
  6. Read at least 3 real books 
  7. Run a half marathon
  8. Listen to world news at least 3 mornings per week
  9. Dedicate at least one full morning per week to handing over Kalah May to someone else so I can focus on my work
  10. Pitch my PhD idea to 5 universities and seek full funding opportunities
  11. Go parasailing
  12. Write and send one hand written letter per month
There ya have it.  No bells, no whistles. No frills, no gimmicks. 12 things to accomplish in 2014. 

What is on your to do list for this new year?

Happy new year everyone!