Monday, December 03, 2007

Snowed Under... laundry! And I thought I wanted four kids!?!? I can't even keep up with the laundry of 2 kids plus Zaak and myself! I wonder if it would be easier with a dryer...probably. Also once the kids are out of diapers I won't have cloth diapers to hassle with washing. It seems lately that the sunniest, windy days are always on the weekend and so I can't NOT do laundry then when it maight rain all the next week! If it rains a couple of days in a row the clothes do not dry forever! So in case you're wondering, I should be doing some laundry right now! Here I go to do it (sound of feet dragging)...

Monday, November 26, 2007

More November Happenings

Zaak and his chums posing with Aydee and her parents at her grad party

The Xmas tree at the Central Square - I love how it almost looks like it's snowing in the photo! It's only rain, sadly

Zaak soaking up some sun on the weekend amidst the laundry on the line:)

November Happenings

With Zaak home more now working (usually on the compy) I get less of a chance to blog. So here are some shots from this past month:

The kids bundled up and trying to stay warm in the house

Zaak and Blaise enjoying the fire at storytime

Acadia happliy chewing on her spoon after her breakfast

Our second (failed) attempt at a family photo with the new baby goat included:)

Cutie Patootie Acadia doing some nude shots when the weather warmed up

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Convicted Shopper Part 2

I've been doing a lot of thinking and reading since my last post. Friends, it does not look good. But since I have to eat and clothe myself, I am trying to find ways to do so in the most earth and people friendly way possible. Sound corny, naive and overly-optimistic? That's me:) In a nutshell.

I was looking for info on sweatshops and tried looking for some anti-sweatshop groups on Facebook. I was shocked to tears when I found a PRO-Sweatshop group!!??!! I understand being uninformed and even apathetic, but to be downright purposefully ignorant...I was horrified. Here is the description of their group:
"to provide basements for people to work to make us clothing, don't ban somthing that gives us cheap shit"
Now I am trying to keep in mind that this group seems to be made up of mostly highschool boys, but still! FOR SHAME!

I can't pretend to be well read or knowledgable about sweatshops and fair-trade and all of this that I am delving into, but I do have some thoughts on the issues. A big argument that I read a lot is that sweatshops give poor people jobs who otherwise would be on the streets. Sure, BUT (HUGE, GIGANTIC "but" here) when these rich companies (such as Nestle, Gap, and Wal-mart) can easily afford to give their 3rd World Country employees fair wages in a clean, safe working environment and choose NOT to, that is where I cast blame.

There are some good websites out there with helpful info. Co-op America has a lot of good info, I like their list of 10 Things to Never Buy Again This sight also has information on several companies and how good or (usually) bad they are.

So I've come to a few decisions after mulling this all around this past month. They are:
1.) Continue to buy stuff at Thrift Stores. The companies that made the clothing/shoes are no longer benefitting from my purchase when I buy them second hand. (Unless I buy something with the brand splayed across my chest/bum - which I won't:)
2.) Boycott all the big brand names and companies that I possibly can. I think that sadly most of the big brand names out their have gotten that way because profit is what counts, not people or the environment.
3.) Support the smaller, green-friendly, sweatshop free companies that are out there. If anyone has suggestions of brands/products/companies you know that are good, please let me know. For starters I know that American Apparel is sweatshop free and Ten Thousand Villages has all fair-trade products.

Okay I really need to wrap up this rant and go to bed. It's way past this Mama's bedtime.
I will leave you with this tidbit I read on the Co-Op America site:
"Styrofoam is forever"

Feliz Noche a todos:)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Convicted Shopper

No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible. --George Burns

I receive a daily email from Charityfocus. It shares a quote, and then a small paragraph about something good someone is doing in the world. One of the recent ones I read was about a book and website called Better World Shopper by Ellis Jones. The basic idea of it is this: as consumers we have the power to choose the kind of world we want to live in, by how we spend our money. The author looked at 5 criteria for the companies he reviewed and the ones that connect the most with me are human rights, the environment, and social justice.

So who are the bad guys out there? Where to start...first the good news how about:)
I was pleasantly surprised to see some of the products and services I use and like got an "A" on the scale (Silk Soy Milk, Burts Bees, American Airlines, Apple Computers, IKEA, and American Apparel). But I was also dismayed at all the products/services I've used that got "C" through "F" grades including: Continental Airlines, Gerber Baby Products, Nestle, Kraft, Nabisco, Dove, Lubriderm, Post Cereals, Twix, Skittles, M&M's, Hershey's, Toblerone (Gasp! NOT Toblerone!?!?) The Gap Clothing (no big surprise there) Covergirl and Revlon Cosmetics, Visa, Adidas, Nike, and the least surprisingly of all...Wal-Mart. There are several categories as you can see and the list goes on but I'll stop with the ones that struck me.

Now the one big grocery store we have here in Guatemala is Paiz, which is being taken over by Wal-Mart. Everytime I go now I see the Wal-Mart logo popping up on different products. BUT I can't boycott this store when it's the only place I can get whole-wheat spaghetti noodles, mushrooms, a selection of dry cereal and ( just recently) Earl Grey tea.

BUT once we live in Canada again I will happily avoid Wal-Mart and shop at Farmers Markets and Health Food Stores as much as financially possible. I really believe each individual has the power to promote change, so I will quietly do my part. And I will happily share my reasons with anyone who asks me why I choose to avoid certain products and services. Now I just have to figure out how I am going to survive without some Toblerone chocolate at Christmas...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

I ♥ Rhubarb

I finally reaped the fruits of my labor today. I picked one of the rhubarb stalks that I had grown from SEED. This rhubarb plant survived three uprootings by Blaise (helpfully weeding he thought) when it was just a few inches tall, then another uprooting when a pipe was dug up underneath it (thank you Zaak for saving it!).

This little frog was in the leaf of the stalk - cute hey.

I made a lovely strawberry rhubarb crisp for dessert tonight with the rhubarb and some strawberries Zaak picked up at the market early this morning. It smelled and tasted delicious. I closed my eyes and took a whiff of the rhubarb just after cutting it and it transported me to my childhood. Memories of running barefoot with all my wild cousins, a cup of sugar and stalk of rhubarb for a treat.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Potty Training Progress...

...Or lack thereof!
Here's a shot of Blaise yesterday - notice the location of the large wet spot on his pants. I went into the whole "if you use the potty you won't have to wear diapers anymore" spiel and reminded Blaise that he has Diego underwear for when he starts using the potty all the time. Blaise was very keen to see his underwear so I took them out of the closet and spread them out nicely for him on his table. I left the room and when I saw Blaise next he had a pair of the underwear on his head and was riding his horse:) What a kid. He's developed a sense of humor before he has given up diapers. That's my boy:)


We had a wonderful Thanksgiving this year, maybe the best yet! It was our third Guatemalan Thanksgiving and like the last one it was turkey-less. Our first one we had the Peter's cook get us a turkey locally and it was a sad and skinny bird. We were not impressed. See my October blog for 2005 if you want to see a photo of the anorexic turkey:)
So this year I did sweet potatoes (camotes en espanol) and a pumpkin cheesecake pie. I wasn't thrilled with the pie but got some compliments on it and Blaise liked it so that's what counts. Ruth made a wonderful salad with a homemade fresh basil dressing, then we had chicken with stuffing, mashed potaotes, and of course cranberry sauce. Really with all the fixings you hardly notice it's not turkey that you're eating:)
After the meal Blaise and his chums Sam and Kathe ran around the Peter's beautiful backyard and splashed a bit in the pila. We snapped a few photos too as the day was a beautiful one. Hope everyone else's Thanksgivings made them thankful too!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Chicken Story

This chicken was hanging around our house the other night. It ended up roosting on the pila which would have been fine excpet that it pooped in it. Arg. I had just scrubbed out the pila. The following day the chicken returned so Zaak and Blaise went out and chased it home. It hasn't come back again, but if it did we were thinking we should cook it up for supper:)

Two Sweet Rosebuds

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Clothes Horse/Bargain Hunters Heaven

These are all my finds today from two Ropa Americana's I hit while I was in town. A "Ropa Americana" (literally American Clothing) is basically a second hand clothing store. There are several of them in our little town of Tactic and they are great fun to peruse. I've always been a second hand store fan but places like Value Village in Canada have lost a bit of their allure since they've jacked their prices.

All the clothing you see in my photo was purchased for the grand total of...drumroll please...Q103.50 (or $14.09 for those of you who don't use Guatemalan currency:) My haul included a pair of Levi boot cut jeans, an Abercrombie & Fitch shirt, a pair of Puma shorts, and a Carters sleeper for Acadia. The other finds were all things I liked but weren't any big brand names. I don't feel guilty about any of the brands I buy because the companies don't benefit at this point from my purchase. I do always check lables to see where the clothes were made and places like Mexico (Levi's) and Malaysia (A & F) make me wonder...

The owners of the Ropa Americana's buy bundles of a thousand items of clothing and pay Q1000. It's hit and miss a lot of the time, with some of the clothing being in rough condition or just downright tacky. But that doesn't stop me from looking, and often finding some great stuff! It's my kind of treasure hunt:)

Pretty in...

Green! What a relief to see Acadia in something besides pink! Why are the majority of clothes for baby girls pink anyway? I love these little green overalls with small purple and blue flowers that I found at a Ropa Americana. What is a Ropa Americana you ask? Stay tuned to find out more...:)

Monday, September 17, 2007

I Love a Man with Dishpan Hands

Friday Afternoon we fired our housekeeper Lidia. We suspected her of stealing but she denied it when we confronted her. Although we never caught her in the act I believe she stole some of Acadia's disposable diapers. The culture here seems to be that people don't confess to any wrong they've done, and if they do get caught they claim they only "borrowed" the stolen item or money. I felt really awful about it all weekend, what if she was innocent and I had wrongfully accused her? I've always struggled with indecisiveness and after we let her go I was doubting myself. So after talking with Zaak, shedding a few tears, and praying, I came to the conclusion that I need to trust myself and live with my decision. Sunday morning I woke up at peace about it.
Strangely enough I am feeling good about doing the housework now. Zaak and I are quite able to take care of the house ourselves, it just means divvying up more responsibilities. Like tonight after supper Zaak played with the kids while I tidied up the kitchen. Lidia was a great worker, but she would do funny/annoying things like rearrange all the food in the pantry, wash the shower curtain and leave it hanging outside to dry, wash Zaak's work clothes and shoes un-asked so he wouldn't have them the next day, give Blaise snacks and drinks without asking, clean Blaise's sippy cups so vigorously that all the spill preventor things broke, and so on. We like that we can find something where we left it now, as long as it's out of Blaise's reach:)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Mariposa Bonita

Acadia joined me for my walk the other day and since she was in the stroller I stuck the camera in it too. I really like taking photos when I go out but feel like a walking target with the camera around my neck, so if I can take it with me less conspicuously I'm happy.
There are always lots of butterflies at this one sunny spot on my walk, and this one is my favorite. I've always loved butterflies, and if I ever got a tatoo it would be of a butterfly. This one is amazing! Wild black and white design on the outside with a splash of red, then it opens up to reveal velvety black and brilliant blue! Incredible. I tried to search for what kind of butterfly it is, but no luck. I need a guide to Central American Butterflies I suppose, since I couldn't find it on the net.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Pretzels and Reality

We made soft pretzels the other day. Blaise loves getting involved in whatever I'm baking or cooking, and I generally enjoy having hin "help" me:) These pretzels turned out WAY too fat, I guess I needed to roll them much thinner. Next time. And here's an unrelated shot of Acadia because she's just so adorable. She's started cooing and singing a lot now when she's happy.

Blaise has been sick for over a week with a bad cough and cold. He's on some antibiotics now since it was getting worse instead of better. So with a baby and a sick little boy to care for I'm feeling a bit frazzled. I love being a Mom and wouldn't trade it for anything. When I'm away from Blaise and Acadia for more than 2 hours I miss them terribly. But sometimes I do get a bit jealous thinking of my friends and family who are not yet parents. The freedom! The huge amount time you have to yourself! These days when I get some free time I just want to sleep! It's 1:30 in the afternoon and I still haven't changed out of my pajamas! So I know, I know, I just need to enjoy this time when my kids are babies and all that, and I am. I just get weary sometimes. Plus the grass is always greener on the other side, and there are lots of lonely people out there who would love to have an amazing couple of kids like mine. So that cheers me up:) Zaak is a great partner and father plus he makes me laugh too when I'm down so I appreciate him. Life just can't be gumdrops and rose petals all the time I suppose - darn hey:)

Monday, August 27, 2007

A Little Conversation

This is a snippet of a conversation I had with Blaise today:
(Blaise and I are looking at a book of animals)
Blaise - "That Mama?"
Amber - "That's a turkey."
B - (Pause) "Why not?"
A - (laughs)
B - "Mama raisins?" (sneeze, cough) "That Mama?" (back to the book, looking at the ripped cover)
A - "Somebody ripped your book."
B - "Blaise rip este?" (este=this)
A - "Mmmhmm"
B - "Blaise cracker?" (Goes and finds his bowl with his snack in it, then lays down on the carpet) "Mama yook! Mama too? Mama yay down? Yook! (I lay down beside him)
B - "Mama no yeep (sleep). Blaise sit Mama?" (He proceeds to jump on my back)
A - "No Blaise you're too heavy." (Blaise climbs up my back and throws himself down on me) "Hey I though we were looking at books?
B - (Laughing) "Mama more? Mama fun?"
A - "No, not fun. Silly."
B - "Mama silly?"
A - (Laughing) Yes. Now no more - you're going to get hurt." (Tries to climb and body slam me again) "What did Mama say?" (Stops and lets out some fake cries, but soon recovers:).

I do enjoy my little boy.


I haven't had anything I've wanted to blog about lately, but now I am ready to rant. The bugs are really getting to me. Tonight I opened a package of pasta only to discover tiny holes throughout the noodles and some nasty looking little critters in the bottom of the bag. Yuck. Last night I was about to put Acadia in her bed when I spotted a cockroach near my closet. I grabbed my sandal and proceeded to unsuccessfully chase it around the room. At least my cursing didn't wake up Zaak or the kids. Then there are these crickets that are so loud at night it's difficult to sleep. There are house flies everywhere even though I hunt them faithfully and kill handfulls at a time. We've also been over-run with ants of several varieties. Blaise barely finishes his lunch before they're ON THE TABLE looking for whatever he didn't eat. We all get bitten in the night by who knows what kind of greeblies that hide in our beds. Sigh. Trust me I could go on. I know it could be worse, we could have scorpions or snakes or something really awful, but this is my swan song so I'm singing it. I do like the fireflies that are in the grass at night, they're very pretty and whimsical looking.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Happy 7th Wedding Anniversary to Us!

Yesterday Zaak and I celebrated 7 years of marriage. We spent most of the day apart unfortunately, but spending time with the kids is like spending time with Zaak in that they are half him:) In the evening we enjoyed a movie and dessert together after putting Blaise and Acadia to bed. Zaak "tricked" me into watching "Scent of A Woman" (since I thought it was going to be romantic and he had seen it before and so he knew it wasn't!) Great film though, strange I just now saw it when it came out in the early 90's. But then I guess I wasn't allowed to watch R rated movies in the early 90's:) Here's a shot of us looking tired but happy - here's to many more years together! I love you Zaak.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

B & A

Wow these two look alike in this shot! Maybe it's because they have the same expression on their faces. In general I find that Blaise takes more after me and Acadia more like her Papa (minus the goatee:)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Much to My Chagrin

This week I locked my keys and Blaise in the car. I hadn't done that yet, so I guess it was bound to happen. It seems to be something Mom's do, what with constantly multi-tasking and lack of sleep:) I arrived at the bank and promptly got a phonecall on my cel, so I was talking while getting Acadia out of the car, rolling up the windows and locking the doors. Next thing I knew I had sealed up the car with Blaise still inside, buckled into his seat:( With my heart sinking down into my shoes I call Zaak to see if he can come rescue me. Unfortunately he is with a group doing a medical clinic in a village half an hour away. So he says he will send Ericka, one of the teachers, on a microbus with his key. I go in and quickly do my banking, thankful that both kids aren't locked in the car but worried about Blaise. I go back out to the car and look in on Blaise, who is happily eating his bunny crackers. I tell the guard at the bank my dilemma, and he tells the other guard and workers inside. A lady from the church comes by and asks what's going on. Soon I have drawn a crowd, with people from shops across the street coming to peer into the car at Blaise. "Foolish Gringa Locks Young Child in Car" is flashing through my brain, as well as everyone else's I imagine. One of the bank workers is a friend of ours, Alejandro. He and the manager try a few of their keys in the car lock - this doesn't work of course. They tell me there's a guy who can open things, so he shows up on his motorbike about 10 minutes later. By this time Blaise has been in the car for 20 minutes and is getting understandably ansy. The guy gets into the car with the little wood wedges in the window and a piece of wire in about two minutes. I feel like kissing him but restrain myself, haivng already made enough of a spectacle for one day. I take Blaise out of the car and he is sweaty but fine, and instantly distracted by a passing stray dog. Gracias a Dios! We go for icecream a few doors down to alleviate my guilt a bit, and Ericka shows up ten minutes later with Zaak's key.

The Big 02

On July 13th my little boy turned two. The night before I sang him "You'll Never Be One Again," a song from my childhood that we had on a record by Alabama. It was a bit sad that my first baby is no longer a baby, but I've got a 3 month old Acadia to enjoy so I can't complain:)
Blaise was very into his birthday this year, he tore into his presents and blew out the candles on his cake by himself. The only thing he didn't do was hit his pinata, after days of talking about it and how there were candies inside:) Oh well, maybe next year! Actually next year we will hopefully be in Montreal for Blaise's birthday, so we can celebrate with Auntie April and little buddy Noah:)

Monday, July 02, 2007

Vacation to Copan, Honduras

We made the trek this past week to our favorite vacation spot with Will, Mariah and the two kids in tow. This was our first trip since Acadia was born and it went better than I expected. We had a hotel room with two beds so Zaak ended up sleeping with Blaise and I slept with Acadia. Not the most romantic set up but definitely the most sleep condusive:) The highlights of the trip for me were the Hot Springs and eating out. The last time we were there was this past November and I had wanted to go to the Hot Springs but we never made it. So this time we drove the hour on a windy dirt road to ge there and it was well worth it! The hot water from the springs flow into a river, so you can have whatever temperature you desire, from boiling hot to refreshingly cool. It was the closest thing I've had to a bath since we were in Canada and it was marvelous:)
Our meals we ate mostly at our favorite restaurant in Copan, the Via Via, a Belgian owned restaurant that has 11 other locations around the world. The draw for us to this place is that their menu has several vegetarian options, which is rare in Guatemala. We had one supper at a more expensive place because of the salmon on their menu, another food we never eat here. I also got a few new books at a book exchange. I believe a good time was had by all, and now it's back to the laundry and cooking of everyday life:) Oh well, there's no place like home right?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Walk with a View

I have realized that I rarely put any photos of scenery on my blog. So today I stuck the camera in the stroller and captured what I see on my walk. It's a good little climb part of the way but levels off again soon so I get my breath back:) I think walking is my favorite type of excercise and I always enjoy getting out in the fresh air. I often catch glimpses of little green and black speckled lizards, as well as many lovely butterflies and interesting insects. I was really happy when I found this road because walking on the highway is not my cup of tea, what with screeching engine brakes, people hurling garbage willy-nilly from car windows, loud honking that scares me half to death, and the exhaust funes that leave me feeling nauseous. Also getting above the town reminds me of what a beautiful place I live - and makes me feel at peace with the world. I usually listen to my ipod and think and pray while I walk. I have to say a big thanks to my Mom who culminated the walker in me, with all our long walks to get the mail when I was a young girl.

Post Bath Fun

Thursday, June 07, 2007

What I've Been Up To...

Acadia will be 8 weeks old tomorrow and life is feeling a new kind of normal:) She's such a sweet baby and is less demanding than Blaise was/is. Blaise has been fighting his nap and bedtimes like a little wild animal, saying "Blaise - wake" when we tell him it's time to get ready for bed. The poor little guy has a bit of a runny nose and has been getting up with a few more bug bites each morning so he's looking pretty rough. I'm still enjoying that there are no teams from Canada right now, Zaak is around more which means more help for me. After lunch when the kids are napping I get a chance to either run errands, nap, or go for a walk. I'm already looking forward to visits from 2 of my sisters this winter - Alanna plans to be here for my birthday in November and April for Christmas. So that's exciting to the utmost! I will have been here 2 years in this September with no visits yet from my family. Alright I better get myself to bed, Acadia will need to eat in a few hours.