March 31, 2010

Below are a bunch of new posts (either 3 0r 5 depending on how often you check in). This more or less catches us up (the others are not really time sensitive, so I'll just post them when I've got nothing else).

March 30, 2010

Hello old friend

I pretty much stopped drinking caffeine in January or February of 2008. I had a few sips while pregnant that year, and a few gulps the next - but that's it. Prior to 2008, however, I had a bottle or can or two a day. But we were in San Isidro again running errands - literally running ...well, walking briskly and doing a lot of it while carrying Half-O. We stopped in at this one place where The Archaeologist had some archaeology equipment to pick up. The proprietor is an expat from Florida - a very personable, chummy guy - who came out to meet Half-O and me and shoot the breeze a bit. Before much breeze was shot, he offered us something to drink, and we both gratefully said "yes, please." He came out with two bottles of Pepsi - two cold bottles of Pepsi. The Archaeologist thought he was going to get two bottles of Pepsi, but it was so nice and cold, and it had cane sugar instead of corn syrup. So I drank it down.

I should have titled the post HELLO OLD FRIEND!!!!, because I was jazzed the rest of the day. I drank it a bit before 5pm, and I was having a hard time falling asleep near 2am. Furthermore, I have been exhausted since getting here. It's like I can't catch up on the sleep lost that week before leaving. I've been napping while Half-O napped and falling asleep by like 9pm.

I haven't had any since. It'd be a shame to acclimate to such awesome artifical energy again. I plan to reserve this new power for special occasions.

Does anyone remember the movie Starman?

I saw it when I was quite young and may not have fully appreciated the real plot/subtext. So perhaps this analogy is off base (or unfair to Jeff Bridges' Oscar nominated performance), but nevertheless: I feel like Starman. I look like an adult human, but standard daily tasks keep giving me pause …sometimes long pauses - almost gratuitous pauses, like I’m exploiting your willing suspension of disbelief.

But here’s Exhibit A) A dinner I cooked for us and an archaeologist friend of The Archaeologist:

It’s not a fancy nor complicated dinner (and the above picture doesn't make it look too appetizing even). I’ve made it numerous times before, often as a last minute meal. But enter Starman. Starman circles the grocery store over and over as if mesmerized by the many aisles and raw meat. Finally deciding on chicken and peppers over rice, Starman is pleased with herself – she’s found food to make for dinner. She’s feeling more like a regular adult human until she realizes that the dish needs spices, and it turns out that very few of the spices have familiar names – return Starman. Let’s stare at spices for a while alternating between expressions of dumbfounded unfrozen caveman and Sherlock Holmes trying to glean some obscure context clue. Meanwhile, Half-O is oblivious and/or unsympathetic to the Starman syndrome – she hasn’t seen the movie and is sick of sitting in the grocery cart. So she decides to knock a bunch of little dishes to the ground so I could look like an awkward and apologetic mime in front of an unfortunate store employee who thankfully was willing to participate in a game of charades. Here’s the dish we took home:

It was only mildly chipped – unlike the other four that were smashed to smithereens. They were like $0.75 a piece. But convert that to the going rate for dignity, and it was kind of expensive. I’m the idiot that spends near an hour at the grocery store – a good chunk of that time staring at 5 shelves of spices – and has no idea what her child is doing. But also – who places a random stack of breakable dishes at the height of a child buckled into a shopping cart? Also, why did the U.S. have to go with pounds instead of grams? I think the Declaration of Independence, the subsequent wars/victories, the Louisiana Purchase et al, and prior to 2008, a dominant economy are enough to prove that we’re our own man. Having our own weights and measures just seems haughty at this point and is currently a bit of a hassle for me.

Oh – and as for the spices, I was hoping I got garlic, pepper, and ginger. I got garlic, pepper, and cinnamon. In my (re: Starman’s) defense, I don’t think the store had ginger. But, I figured ginger and cinnamon are kind of similar – both can be sweet but also have a bit of heat – so I used it anyway – just not very much.

Alright, now it’s time to cook the food. There’s some more pausing as Starman debates how best to clean the peppers – do I need to use bottled water? Is that a waste? Does the oil get hot enough to kill the germs? Then there’s the stove:

I don’t mind that it’s small. The height is a bit of a worry as Half-O can reach it, but she understands hot and steers clear. What summons Starman is that it requires that I light a match and hold that lit match near flowing gas in order to get a burner going. I realize this is not a problem for most people. I, however, have a slight fear of fire. Fire bad (sorry, I can't find the actual clip). I don’t think I lit a match until I was a teenager. But I did it, and then had to do it like 10 more times before the chicken and peppers were done as I kept turning off the gas when I was just trying to lower the heat.

So Starman made dinner, and it was good (we just had ice cream for dessert). I guess I should be glad that I didn’t have to begin my journey of discovery in the buff like Starman – customs would have been a bit more interesting. Do you think we would have been flagged, or moved right through since I clearly had nothing to hide?

Olive trees and justification for always forgetting the camera

San Isidro is a neighborhood here in Lima - quite a nice neighborhood – and it has a park called El Olivar. As the name may suggest, it is filled with olive trees (not a tree that is indigenous to Lima) - olive trees in neat row after row. What is especially cool is that the trees were planted by the Spanish in the 16th and 17th Centuries (I'm not saying colonization is cool - just that I was looking at centuries old gnarled and twisted olive trees). Apparently people just go down there and pick their olives when it's the season (I don't yet know when that is, but do plan to find out).

Half-O enjoyed running down the rows of trees, but was more partial to the pond filled with fish.

Of course, once we reached the park I realized that we had forgotten the camera. For years we didn't even own a camera, because it was pointless - we never thought to bring it along and frankly, neither of us liked to stop and take pics. My dad finally got us a digital camera, and we managed to take it on a few outings. Soon after, Half-O came along and of course the camera got more use. Still, we're not photogs.

Luckily, other people are, and I figured I could find some pictures of El Olivar online. I did (thank you and Soldan at

I also found an awesome example of the shortcomings of automated translation: "The hobby of not yet observing birds is very common in Lima." I laughed almost as hard as when I asked The Archaeologist if he had a man. Had we remembered the camera, I never would have known there was such a hobby.

A question for the ages

It was a little early for dinner, but we were at a mall with many eateries around and basically nothing in our fridge. This is still the first day in Lima. I was feeling a bit better about the whole living in a foreign country. I was also being comforted by the mall – actually, my distinct thought was that I wanted to live at that mall. As I went to ask The Archaeologist if he was hungry, I stopped. I should say this in Spanish – I can figure it out – this is what I need to be doing. So I gave my husband a pleased, what-do-you-think-of-this look and asked: You got a man?

Tienes hombre? Tienes hambre? So close.

March 29, 2010

"Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment"

So I got shocked trying to plug in the microwave at our new home. I can’t remember the last time I got shocked that badly. It went up my left arm to the left side of my face and brain. I guess I said “Whoa!” when it happened because afterwards Half-O kept saying “Mama whoa, Mama whoa.”

That was the first day in Lima. The Archaeologist had meetings; we were on our own. All the sorting, tossing, storing, packing, and re-packing was finished. We had left an empty apartment at 7am having not slept a wink – but it was empty; we had done it. Next: 17 hours of international travel with a toddler and excess baggage. Now that was done, and the never-ending list of things to do before we left the country had somehow ended. I was listless (and also very listless – I could have slept for a week if Half-O would have obliged), and in this listless state I thought: we’re living in a foreign country where I don’t speak the language and I don’t know a soul, and we’re going to continue to do so for a year. Please can I go back to sleep?

Why didn’t I ever question whether or not this was a good idea? I questioned if it was a good idea to bring Half-O down here, but never delved into my feelings on the subject, like – is this something I want to do?* What’s with this damn stoicism? It’s brought me nothing but trouble. And so on.

Half-O, on the other hand, was gleeful. She was running inside and outside without distinction, half-naked and getting grimier by the minute.

Then I got shocked. It was so jarring – shocking, really – that I couldn’t even get mad about it. I did decide we could do without the microwave until The Archaeologist got home. And as Half-O drank her milk cold, I also decided that I should view it as my own personal electro shock therapy. Snap out of it - we’re here; we’re fine; we’ll be fine. Plus the soda and bread are way yummier here.

I’ve had a few more issues with Peruvian electricity. None as severe as that first day, but I wish I had thought of another analogy.

Here's the culprit:

Both The Archaeologist and our landlady plugged it in with no ill effects.

Here's Half-O in all her grimy glory:

*The Archaeologist said he asked me, and I don’t doubt him. I must not have been listening. I must have been compiling that to do list.

March 9, 2010

Sweet 16

Half-O is 16 months old today – and she is quite sweet! Also, she talks up a storm. I have a feeling she is more communicative now than she will be when she is actually 16. She even tries multiple approaches if I didn’t get it right the first time. For example, her “duck” and “dog” are pretty similar and without context, I don’t always know which one she is saying. But if I choose the wrong one, then she proceeds to make the accompanying animal sound so we can be on the same page.

So here are my 16 favorite things that she says (my 16 current faves in no particular order):

1. Buffalo (because she so carefully enunciates each syllable and gives the last one extra oomph – flings it off her tongue)
2. Quesadilla (this is a pretty new one and often she pronounces it in the common incorrect gringo fashion - as if she read it – because that's not how I pronounce it)
3. Escalator (it doesn’t always come out right – she sometimes gets a little tongue tied and the syllables reverse. Also, she has a bit of a lisp so that adds cuteness)
4. Hippa hoppa loot at foo foo go (her version of the Peter Cottontail song)
5. There it is (because often it’s said in an pleased whisper)
6. I don’t know (because she condenses it to one word and goes up an octave in the process)
7. Hello (she often says it like Jerry’s girlfriend’s stomach is imagined to say it in that one Seinfeld episode)
8. When she doesn’t know the answer to “what does ___ say?,” she responds with “Hi”
9. Okay Okay (it is her version of yes. When I ask her if she wants to do something and she does, she responds with an excited “Okay, Okay”)
10. Cereal (because at Target the other day, we got off the escalator and as we walked towards the food section, I wondered aloud “what food did we need to get?” and she answered “ceweal” – which I had forgotten about, but it had been one of the original purposes of the trip.)
11. Tank you, mama (because yeah!!! Often she says it not when I give her something but when she returns it to me)
12. Pee Whew (this is what a skunk says)
13. Duh nuh, duh nuh (this is what a shark says)
14. Sam-a-lam (Sam-I-Am)
15. Her counting – if there are two things she'll usually stop at two, but otherwise she’ll go to 10 regardless (though almost always skips 5), and if there are still stairs to climb/count, she goes back to 2 and kind of jumps around in the count.
16. Be Still (what Max says to the Wild Things – she always accompanies it with a raised hand)

March 7, 2010

The Sophomore Post

we're not in peru yet, so what do i post about now? i could do a mommy blog post and introduce you to half-o, but that could wait until her 16 month mark next week. i could detail all the packing and preparation i'm avoiding - but the avoidance really hinges on not thinking about it. i could do a farewell chicago post with all the things i'll miss - but we'll be back in a year or so and really, i think the thing i'll miss most is not having to boil the water, and that's not really chicago specific. winter isn't the best time to be nostalgic about chicago - maybe pizza, family, friends? though not in that order ...sometimes in that order. i do like pizza. the archaeologist and i were once discussing my like of pizza, and in an effort to quantify my like, i said that i could eat it everyday - said it without an ounce of flippancy. and that was once tried - well, for a week or so - and i succeeded - happily. but chicago has ruined me for just any pizza. in college i worked at domino's and never tired of eating its pizza. but i had some a little while ago, and it was just awful. perhaps it tasted better when it was free? or perhaps i've had very very delicious pizza for the past 7 years. so thank you chicago, thank you (in no particular order): edwardos, giordanos, bricks, medici, leona's, marcellos, due, pizanos, and many others whose names i can't remember or never knew.

(i know i promised pictures and should accompany this post with pics of us enjoying yummy pizza - or even just pics of yummy pizza, but i am currently connecteing to the internet via dial-up, and it just takes too excruciatingly long - but there will be pics ...eventually)