Sunday, November 30, 2008

Primary Elections in Honduras: No Booze!

Its can be difficult to determine what is illegal here in Honduras. Sometimes it seems like pretty much everything is legal. We're not sure if it is legal to drink beer while driving your car here, but we have seen plenty of people do it. I'm sure it it is legal to get completely wasted during a soccer match. But is it legal for a completely wasted guy to run into the street screaming and shooting his gun in the air after his team wins? It happens all the time.

After living here for a year, we finally discovered an alcohol law that is actually enforced. In Honduras, it is definitely illegal for restaurants, bars, grocery stores, and gas stations to sell alcohol for three days during the elections. Elections are Sunday. No wine, liquor, or beer can be sold on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday.



So if you are thinking about popping down to Honduras for a cold Salva Vida, you're going to have to wait until Tuesday.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

We have a bedroom for grownups now!


Items Purchased:
2 gallons paint
1 mahogany chest of drawers, bought used and refinished (not by us)
2 night stands, bought used and stained to match (also not by us)
5 yards fabric (curtains)
6 yards fabric (bedspread)
1 yard fabric (shams)

Total Expenses: 7,200 Lempiras

Friday, November 28, 2008

Honduran Home Makeover

We've sort of overlooked the fact that our bedroom is outrageously ugly for over a year now. They say that the bedroom should be the most relaxing and comfortable space in the house. Here's how Karine describes ours: cold; sterile; concrete; reminiscent of a college dorm in early September, before the Bob Marley posters and lava lamps arrive; high gloss white pant over moldy concrete.

So we're going to use these.....

To turn this....

...into the bedroom of our dreams. We'll keep you posted on the progress.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving from Honduras

Happy Thanksgiving! Karine and I would like to wish everyone back home a safe, happy, and delicious Thanksgiving. We are going to be having a traditional turkey dinner later today with some friends here in La Ceiba. Karine is working on the green been casserole in the kitchen right now. A marshmallow, sour cream, coconut, fruit cocktail, and maraschino cherry concoction is setting in the fridge.

Let's pretend we're all at the table having dinner together and everyone has to say one thing that they are thankful for. And remember: just because you say you are thankful for a particular thing, that doesn't mean that you aren't thankful for other things.

--Round One--
Karine: Family
Tom: The Río Cangrejal

--Round Two--
Karine: Our health
Tom: Beck's album, Sea Change

--Round Three--
Karine: Oppurtunities I've been given in my life
Tom: Family vacations in Minnesota, past and future

Feel free to play along on the comments page!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Awesome Hair -- Awesome Brain: Geddy Lee

Geddy Lee is a founding member of Rush. Rush's brand of complex, science-fiction themed heavy metal has been shaping great minds since 1968. Rush is what future software-engineers, architects, and mathematicians listened to while they played Dungeons & Dragons in their parent's basements in the 1970's. Lee's hair -- pictured below in a powerful mullet configuration -- speaks for itself.

The largest audience to ever attend a Rush concert was 60,000 in São Paulo, Brazil. People in South and Central America sure love heavy metal.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Week 29 Action Shots

Album Recommendation: Venetian Snares -- Rossz Csillag Alatt Született

Venetian Snares' album Rossz Csillag Alatt Született provides the perfect soundtrack for wearing extremely tight pants while contemplating modern art in a warehouse gallery with a stainless steal front door. Probably in Eastern Europe. An eminently tasteful marriage of romantic Hungarian strings and breakneck drum and bass, the album communicates class, intrigue, and a hint of danger. Think Dimitri Shostakovich meets Squarepusher.



This music is not for everyone. It is at times jarring and abrasive. The heavy drum and bass portions of the album are a merciless assault on the senses. Other tracks wrap you in a warm cocoon of hauntingly lush string melodies. You feel like you could float away. Sometimes Venetian Snares pulls you in both directions simultaneously. Listening can be like sipping an aged Scotch while relaxing on a rollercoaster.


I've been listening to this album quite a bit lately. If you are interested in experimenting with music which sounds entirely new, Venetian Snares might be what you are looking for.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Biking the Río Cangrejal After School

Today we got a welcome break from the almost constant rains of the past couple of weeks. The sun came out late in the afternoon and I took the opportunity to ride my bike up the river. Sometimes we forget that we live so close to the foothills of the Sierra Nombre de Dios mountains. I started peddling from my front porch and six minutes later I was on a dirt road following the curve of the Río Cangrejal into the mountains.


I think there is a lot to be written about and photographed concerning mountain biking in and around La Ceiba. I'm going to put it on my to do list. This blog was written by Tom, the one who is not pregnant. The one who is pregnant will be featured in a maternity wear fashion feature tomorrow.

Bookstore

Sunday Dog Lounging

Sunday, November 23, 2008

To Do: Sunday!

We woke up today and realized that there are only 10 weekends left before we become parents. This includes the holidays, and so we're only actually home for 6 more of those weekends. Eeek!

It's rainy season here in Honduras. This means daily temperatures around 63 degrees and 100 percent humidity for about 3-4 months. When living in Honduras, mold becomes a part of one's life. For example, in our house right now, some of the items that are moldy are: bathrobes, front/back wooden door, walls, ceiling tiles, books, shoes, leather belts and purses, and a clay wall hanging. It's not because we're dirty people. It's just because it's the perfect condition for mold to grow! We try to keep up with it, but nothing ever completely dries out.

With our recent realization of the short amount of actual time left here before Baby Lew arrives, we both freaked out in our own way. I made a list of the things I need to do before the baby arrives. This includes things like buying a dresser, rug, and blinds for the baby's room, sewing a big patch for our green velvet couch, checking references on our potential nanny, and of course, decorating for Christmas. I'd also like to sit down and talk with Tom about my feelings and make some goals and plans for the upcoming weeks. We also need to figure out what we want to name this little guy.

Philosophically, Tom and I have some different feelings about what type of preparation needs to happen. I'd like to think about things and maybe buy some baby stuff. Also, I feel that our bedroom is incredibly ugly, so I'd kind of like to paint it, rearrange it, and sew some new curtains for it sometime in those 6 weekends.

I'm concerned about strollers also. Do we go for a travel system or just a stroller and a carrier separately? Forward or rear-facing stroller? I've read just about every review out there, and I've narrowed it down to a couple. Tom is also excited about strollers, but he's definitely into test-driving them before we buy. I hope Delta Airlines will let us travel with a stroller for free even without the baby. That's our plan for now! Here are a few pictures of those I'm interested in:




















Above: Kolcraft Contours (faces both forward and back) Right: Graco Stylus Travel System, Below: Chicco Cortina Keyfit. What decisions!










Feedback on strollers, anyone???










Tom's idea of preparation is on the list below. You will see that he's also scheduled some special time for us to talk about my feelings. It's just going to be after cleaning and organizing and bleaching our house. :) Meanwhile, I'm just going to think about my feelings and the projects I'd like to do. For me, it all starts with visualization.


I feel good about the progress made so far. Our house feels a lot cleaner, and I haven't had to do too much of it. We have already worked through the medicine cabinets and wicker bathroom drawers together. Now Tom is heating up some soup for lunch. Yummy! Happy Sunday, everyone!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Friday Fun

Friday was an incredibly busy day for us- hence the short blog post. As the National Honor Society adviser at our school, Tom was in charge of organizing a fundraiser for the school.


This "Pop-A-Prize" fundraiser was a definite hit. The idea was that people bought chances to pop a balloon, and inside was some type of prize ranging from a sucker to airfare to Roatan and a dolphin encounter. Needless to say, I bought 20 chances. Although I didn't win the big prize, (dolphin trip) I did win dinner for two at Expatriates and two pineapples! I also won some brownies, pizza and sodas, so we had a yummy lunch on Friday too.


We had to rush home from school to get ready for the annual Mazapan Thanksgiving celebration. This is a chance for all the teachers to gather together and eat really good food- all Thanksgiving style. The all purpose room was decked out for the event, and the teachers were too!

The food was delicious, and the company was fantastic too. Each teacher was asked to bring a dish to share (enough servings for about 30 people). Tom signed up for mashed potatoes (we used your yummy recipe, Carole!) and I brought some homemade stuffing. Our food was, of course, served in Polish Pottery. We even got to bring home some leftovers, so I believe that the holiday eating season has officially begun!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Awesome Brain -- Awesome Hair: Stephen Pinker

Here is a picture of Stephen Pinker with a model of the human brain. Pinker is an easy choice for Awesome Brain -- Awesome Hair. He's an evolutionary psychologist who knows more about brain function and language acquisition than just about anyone on the planet. And he wins the Harvard Faculty Hair Competition almost every year. If you want to know how the mind works, you might want to read Pinker's book, How the Mind Works.

Mr. Pinker is also Canadian.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Honduras Wins!

It was a great night for Honduras. We beat Mexico 1-0. I even saw a guy jumping up and down while screaming and firing his gun into the air. I felt like I was in a cartoon.

I didn't take my camera with me last night. But I had my cellphone. I only captured one picture worth posting. I don't usually take pictures of urinals, but I couldn't pass up the symbolism of this one:

A Mexican beer in a Honduran toilet.


I kind of think that Karine may make me take this picture down. We'll see.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Honduras vs. Mexico

It is impossible to overstate the impact of tonight's World Cup Qualifier between Honduras and Mexico on the future self-esteem of the Honduran people. Its a big game. This year's team has the best chance of qualifying in thirty years. And tonight's game will decide their fate.


The national soccer team matters here in Honduras in a way that is difficult for people in the United States to understand. Honduras is a small country with a rather heart-breaking history. But the Honduran national soccer team can compete with any nation on earth. And the Honduran people are very, very proud:

video

That video was shot by our friends Kimmy and Chris at friendly match between Honduras and Haiti last summer. Here's what happens when Honduras scores a goal. The things flying through the air are baleadas and beer:

video

We're hoping for a big win tonight. If the team triumphs, thousands of fans will drive though the streets of La Ceiba in one long conga line of cars. Ciebeños will sing, scream, shoot their guns into the air, throw food and beer at each other, and dance on top of their cars until at least four in the morning.


I am venturing out into the city to watch the game tonight. I'll take my camera along and post what I see on the blog tomorrow. PS, people really do shoot their guns in the air when we win.


Viva Honduras!!!


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Awesome Brain -- Awesome Hair: Tim Berners-Lee

This is a picture of Tim Berners-Lee. His most famous invention is the Internet. He has a tremendous brain and a really awesome haircut. After Tim and his team of supernerds at the CERN laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland invented the Internet in 1990, they couldn't decide what to do with it. They tried to sell it, but no one wanted to buy it. That's why the Internet is free.

I just wanted to give a shout out to TBL and his hair. This guy has done a lot for the world, and most people have never even heard of him. Thanks Tim, for having nice hair, and being really smart.

Monday, November 17, 2008

From the waiting room...

Some reader thought that Karine and Tom's last couple of entries were too abstract. So they decided to blog from the waiting room at the hospital in La Ceiba. They are going to use lots of words.

You may notice that Karine is holding a number two in the picture below. That is because she is second in line to see the doctor. That's how they roll down there. Just like in the returns line at Target. Take a number and wait your turn. Unless you are bleeding, then they let you in right away.

Karine is smiling in this picture because Tom just reminded her that they have not invited reader participation in judging the success or failure of their blog everyday contest. And that they can go swimming with dolphins no matter what. No one can stop them from swimming with the dolphins, if that is what they choose to do.

Tom is smiling because Karine has just congratulated him on taking some pretty sweet pictures of their backyard water garden. And Tom feels pretty good about that.

And yes, someone wrote this thing in third person. What?


***Update*** The doctor was poking and squeezing Karine's stomach and determined that the baby has turned into the head-down position. This is great!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Saturday News

Here is a picture of Karine drinking orange juice. She's wearing a funny outfit!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Crilaton 2008


It's that time again! The annual Crilaton (La Ceiba's version of the Jerry Lewis Telethon) is on again. It's been canceled twice already this year due to the rain. I've posted a picture from last year because Tom isn't on national tv until later tonight.

The “Centro de Rehabilitación Integral del Litoral Atlántico (CRILA), Amor y Esperanza”, is a Non-Profit/Non-Governmental Organization that provides quality care in the fields of Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy, Psychological Therapy and Special Education (Speech Therapy, etc.). Their main objective is to provide quality rehabilitative care to patients of all ages, races and economic standing with emotional and physical trauma and handicaps.
To find out more about the C.R.I.L.A. organization, or to donate, click here

I'm hoping to take some pictures of the tv tonight while Tom is on. They're scheduled for 6:15pm, but this is Honduras, so it might be more like 9pm. You never know!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Only in Honduras, Part 17

I rode my bike to school this morning. As I was leaving my neighborhood I saw something I had never seen before. A newer Toyota pickup truck pulled over to the curb and parked about a block in front of me. A man wearing only a towel opened the driver's side door, got out, and walked into a house across the street.

Its always nice to start your day with something unexpected.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Nanny Diaries

I know that from time to time, people wonder why the heck Tom and I live way down in Honduras. Aside from the 75 and sunny November days, there are some other major advantages for us to live here.

Throughout my life, I've experienced many different aspects of childcare. When I was growing up my mom took care of a couple neighbor kids in our home for awhile, and she later went on to license daycare homes in MN. Dinner topics could include the number of fire extinguishers in a house, or the quality of craft activities one home would provide for its charges. I did my fair share of babysitting as a teen (after reading 150 Babysitters Club books). For a year and half while I was in grad school, I worked as a nanny for two girls in a family's home. I've become sort of an expert on appropriate activities, healthy snacks, and required tasks of childcare.

The diaper is about to be on the other butt cheek now that I'm about to become a mother. Recently, a friend back home wrote to me about the challenge of finding a daycare home that met her needs. It turns out that it can be difficult to find someone with whom you can trust your child for several hours a day. In addition to that, a mother can only hope that their caregiver will instill the same values (and good grammar!) that they would receive at home. In the past few weeks, I've begun to think carefully about who will care for our little guy when I return to work.

I pulled the table below from the Minnesota Child Care Resources website.

Average Weekly Cost of Child Care

Below are some average ranges of weekly child care costs in Minnesota as of June 2008. Rates for part-time and drop-in care may be higher than those listed below.


Metro

Centers

Family
Child Care

Infant

$286.00

$160.00

Toddler

$240.00

$150.00

Preschool

$212.00

$140.00

School-Age

$184.00

$125.00


I assume that this is pretty accurate and I know that the going rate for an in-home nanny is upwards of $400 per week. For the past few months, I've been researching child care options here in La Ceiba. While there are a few private centers in the area, the most common form of childcare is an in-home nanny. Many live in the home (or in small rooms attached/outside the home.) Others come only during the daytime. The average salary for a full-time nanny (not live-in) is about $25 per week/$100 per month. Yes- that's right. It's the going rate around here! A huge savings for a young couple on a budget!

We intend to find the best nanny in La Ceiba, and pay her an above-average salary to meet our above-average expectations. We've already interviewed (in Spanish) a woman that we've known for awhile from La Ceiba. She's a warm, caring, 50 something woman who would love to care for our little baby. If all goes as expected, I think she'll do a great job.

So that's one reason we like living here in Honduras. Ideally, I'd love to be able to stay home with our baby. Since that is not our plan for now, the second best option for us is having two income-earning parents and a loving nanny to care for our baby in the home. Anyone else want to move to Honduras???

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Baby's First Song

Karine's parents gave us a wonderful gift after we told them the good news. Its a device called a Bebe Sounds Prenatal Heart Listener. Every couple of days Karine drags this thing out of the closet to have a listen. We haven't heard anything yet.

The Bebe Sound also has a pair of miniature belly speakers, like a set of headphones for the womb. Last night, instead of listening to hear the baby, we decided to send him some of our favorite music to listen to. We were faced with a difficult decision. What was the baby's first song going to be?

After a short discussion we agreed that our baby's first song should be something by The Mars Volta. The Mars Volta is really the only band in pop music right now doing anything adventurous. And they rock. And we want our son to rock.


Son et Lumiere + Inertiatic esp.

If you can make it to 2:04 you will be rewarded with some of the greatest freak-out music in the history civilization.



Monday, November 10, 2008

From 52 to 48, 48 to 52 -- with love

Our buddy Ze Frank has created a website which allows people who voted Obama (52%) to post messages to people who voted McCain (48%) and vice versa. He created the website to provide supporters of either candidate with a space for post-election reconciliation. We love Ze Frank. Check out his show, here.

Here's a link to the 52 to 48 website. You can add your own message here.

Good Job, Anderson Cooper


Anderson and the team at CNN did a bang up job covering the presidential election.

We just wanted to say that.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Third Trimester

Tom and I have been amazed this past week to see how rapidly my belly is expanding. Here's a little trip down memory lane...
This photo was taken at week at Week 13 (Around August 10)




This one was taken at Week 19 (Sept.11)




And finally, you can see that today at Week 27, I am getting huge!

Baby Lew is about 2 pounds, 3 oz. From head to toe he measures about 15 inches! The official "compare your baby to food" website says that he's about the size of a full head of cauliflower. He loves moving around day and night, practicing for a future on the Honduran national soccer team. I'm pretty sure he's going to be a goalie, because he's using both hands and feet!
All in all, I still feel great and love being pregnant. The next few months are sure to fly by, but we are so excited to welcome our little guy into the world!