Monday, December 28, 2009

Here's What Flew By -- La Ceiba to San Pedro Sula

Antigua Bound

Here is where we are headed today.

Antigua, Guatemala.

We're traveling by bus and hope to update the blog throughout the day. We have mobile wireless, so we should be able to do it. It's 0538 right now. We should be in Antigua by nine p.m.. We're riding a Hedman Alas bus, which is the best way to go here in Honduras.

Wish us luck. Traveling by bus for over twelve hours with an 11 month old might not be the smartest thing we've ever done.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve 2009

Here is how we spent our very special Christmas Eve day...

First, we enjoyed an afternoon family pool party. Zeke took the picture of us while we relaxed in the pool. We got some sun (Zeke got some shade) and we all had a great time.
(Zeke is holding up a #1 for his 1st Christmas)

After we all dried off and got cleaned up, we enjoyed pizza for dinner and got ready to open gifts for Zeke's very first Christmas.

Ruby was on her best behavior because she got a giant bone.

We had a fantastic time opening gifts. Zeke was extremely excited to get his own guitar. After so many months of helping his dad, Zeke can finally jam along on his own guitar.

After Tom opened his new cowboy boots, he rushed off to his closet to put the entire ensemble together.

Tom and Zeke gave me 3 great new outfits- a little something for everything! A workout outfit, a special Honduras jersey to cheer on our team, and a cute black top to go with my 2 new pairs of jeans. I'm a lucky mom!

Zeke conked out before he could finish opening all of his gifts. Much more fun is to be had tomorrow.

Merry Christmas!
Tom, Karine, Ezekiel, and Ruby the dog

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth...

. . . But I'd settle for one of them just coming in and making the pain stop!"
- Zeke's First Christmas Carol (age 10 months 4 weeks)

Our little guy is teething again! He successfully grew his bottom front two teeth about 2 months ago, but he's really working on his top ones now. Between wrapping presents and singing songs, the past few days have been filled with fussing, fevers, and plenty of diaper changes. I've heard that once the tooth breaks through the symptoms go away pretty quickly. I'm hoping so! We want our happy baby back for Christmas! (Plus we're scheduled to take a 15 hour bus trip on Monday morning.)

It hasn't all been fussiness though. Zeke has taken an interest in the Christmas tree and the pretty packages under it. Tonight, we let him wear his special Christmas pajamas in anticipation of the big night tomorrow. His PJs have sock monkeys dressed in Santa hats. It puts all of us in a better mood.

On a side note- Zeke is not asking for more hair from Santa. He's got plenty! (See photo below)

More tomorrow on Zeke's first Christmas!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

December Fun

We've been busy this month winding down 2009 at school. This past week we had the big Christmas program and it was perfectly lovely! Meanwhile at home, we've spent our evenings enjoying Zeke as he grows from a darling baby into an active little ten-month old boy!

This first video shows Zeke as he's starting to talk and imitate words. We've heard that bilingual babies tend to acquire language a little slower, but he already has a tiny vocabulary that we're very proud of . Some of his words include: Dada, Mama (sometimes), agua, woof, hello, bye-bye, and go. He loves cell phones. Even though he won't say bye-bye on the phone, his hand still waves when he hears and thinks about the word.

I'm not sure if it's okay to put bare bottoms on on the internet, but we think this is just so cute! (Sorry to anyone offended by it, and sorry Zeke if you look at this blog in 15 years!) We've had fun dressing him up for different family outings and also just for fun time at home.

Here we are at the mall looking for Santa. We found the tree and the little house, but no Santa yet! We'll keep trying. We even let Zeke wear his new shoes to the mall for the special outing.

Zeke's newest favorite toy is one we've borrowed from our friends across the street. Their little girl learned to walk quickly with the help of this handy push-toy. Zeke loves it! My friend suggested putting a bag of flour on the bottom to slow it down at first.

When our kitchen supply of flour ran low, we had to confiscate Zeke's and replace it with our bag of basmati rice. Here's a cute little video of Zeke on the move with his walker.

Happy December! (Only 4 and 1/2 days of school left before Christmas break- woohoo!)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Zeke's first Thanksgiving, decking the halls

Recorded something like 20 Nov 2009. Ezekiel does cute things. Tom dances embarrassingly. Karine directs and narrates.

Rio Zacate -- Atlantida, Honduras

We're homebodies for the most part, especially me. I am happy as a clam standing in the backyard barefoot watering the plants. That's my idea of a weekend. Our friends have been trying to get us to visit this spot for months. Sometimes it's good to leave the old ranch and see what the wide world has to offer.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

How am I not myself?

At some point I either read somewhere or some authoritative-type intellectual told me that we are actually less ourselves than we are something else. I think this is a pretty sweet little factoid, so I occasionally unleash it on an unsuspecting friend or acquaintance at a social function. It's my go-to zany science sound bite. It goes something like this.

Defining the self is not, under normal circumstances, in the generalized wheel-house of science. Red blood cells? Check. Liver, spleen? Check. Personhood, the self, the soul? See philosophy. If science were forced to say something about the self it might come up with this: we exist as the genetic material which programmed our development. Where do I exist? I exist in my code, in my unique genetic fingerprint, in that which differentiates me from every other living organism. So we start there. The thing that is us in our body is our genetic material.

Here is the kicker. There is more genetic material in my body (and yours!) belonging to other creatures than there is belonging to me. This is because there are ten times as many bacteria in the human body as there are human tissue cells. Isn't that neat? You are more not you than you are you.

Next time you are yelled at by a loved one for goofing up just remind her (or him) that you are not yourself. You are actually mostly something else.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

John Vanderslice -- Promising Actress

I have my own little group of cherubs at school this year, which is why I have written like eight words on the blog since August. It's very different than working in the library. The kids sort of need stuff. All the time. It's okay with me. I like the excitement. But I do miss writing. I even bought a little tiny notebook a couple of months ago. The plan was I would carry it with me everywhere and write down little observations throughout the day. At the end of the day I would come home and load them into the blog. Even if it was only a sentence or two, I'd still be writing. The little notebook daily writing practice was executed exactly zero times. But I did buy the notebook.

Also, there is the boy. Time is sort of different now. In the best possible way.

I teach English and math to seventh and eighth graders. I also teach music appreciation whether they want it or not. I played this song for them Wednesday morning. It's a a great song. Here's what I told them when it was over and they looked at me with facial expressions ranging from mild interest to abject boredom to utter confusion: Don't worry kids if you don't like it, it's only because you don't know enough about music to tell what is good.

So that aspect of teaching is pretty fun.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

What we've been doing (while we weren't blogging)

So, our family was kind of sick for a couple weeks, and then we took a few more days to catch up and get back to normal. Though we weren't blogging like we normally would, we still had a few outings and activities. As always, we documented them with pictures.

Zeke was a pig for Halloween. Except he was sick on Halloween and the day after. I had sewed Zeke this adorable little pig costume, complete with ears and a tail, and I was so bummed when he didn't get to wear it for Halloweekend. Tom's class at school had read "Alice in Wonderland" and he was having a special tea party for them at school in the library after Halloween. The kids dressed up in costumes, and I brought Zeke in his piggy costume. The reason this was appropriate was that the baby in "Alice" is named Pig. Zeke was quite the hit!
Then it was National Build-A-Fort-In-Your-Living-Room weekend. I built this fort in our living room for Ruby and Zeke. Both enjoyed crawling in and out and having a special place to play.

Last weekend, we went mini-golfing at La Ceiba's brand-new mini golf course! Zeke loved his first game of mini golf at La Rana Mini Golf here in La Ceiba. It's a great family-friendly activity, and they have a trampoline too!

One of the unique things about living in Honduras is that sometimes you see things in places you just don't expect. While we were golfing, we looked up and over the wall into the next lot. In the sky, we saw this bathroom. The house surrounding the bathroom is long gone. All that is left is a bathroom in the sky- weird, huh!

Speaking of bathrooms... Since we moved down here 2 and a half years ago, I've really missed bathtubs. Most homes in La Ceiba do not have bathtubs, including ours. Recently, I've begun to think about what it would take to make this dream come true. We rent our house, so we're not really looking to do any remodeling projects on our own dime. This would be a pretty big project, because our house does not have hot water either. We currently use electric shower heads to heat the water right before it comes out, giving us a warm shower. If we had a bathtub, we'd need a small hot water heater too.

So, I've been pricing it out, thinking about putting a proposal together for our landlord. I found this bathtub at Ace Hardware, and I think it would it would fit in the existing space without knocking down any walls or anything major.

We've also been out to eat at a couple of beach places in the past 2 weeks. Last weekend, we went to Guapo's on the beach for lunch. Here are the guys enjoying the view.

Finally, on Thursday night, we went out to the Quinta Real hotel on the beach in La Ceiba. Zeke and I went for a little walk/photo shoot on the beach.
When we came back, Tom had hired these mariachi guys to serenade us. Zeke loved the musicians, and I think they loved him too.

Glad to be back to blogging- stay tuned for more!

New Furniture

We've had our eye on this special type of Guatemalan hand-carved furniture for the past 3 years. Several of our friends have had different types of this furniture around their homes and we've always admired it. Each year, a couple of guys arrive in La Ceiba and park along the side of the road selling their furniture for just a week or two. The style is characterized by thick carving in heavy pieces of cypress wood. The pieces are then finished- not with a normal wood stain, but with shoe polish. The effect is a unique, ornately carved piece of furniture.

We had heard rumors that it was possible to bargain for a good deal, but for the past 2 years have had no luck locating these guys. Finally, for the past two weeks, we've noticed the guys were camped out in their truck selling their wares on the side of the road, just a 3 minute walk from our front door. Yesterday we pulled out all the stops and bought all of our dream pieces. Two hours later, the big truck parked in front of our house and unloaded our purchases. We now have grown-up matching furniture, all for a very affordable price.

How affordable can 8 pieces of beautifully hand carved furniture be, you might ask? Well, individually, the asking price came to about $700 for everything we dreamed of buying. Tom's bargaining skills (and the fact that the men are packing up and leaving town tomorrow) brought the price down to $425. Now I know this may sound like a lot to spend on a random afternoon whim (Merry Christmas, Tom!), but here's what we bought:

6 foot tall bookshelf,
3.5 foot tall accent bookshelf
giant cabinet-type thing (we'll use for our stereo and board games)
hope chest/trunk
2 matching end/accent tables
large picture frame

AND the best thing of all...
this awesome rocking horse! (to be tied up with a red bow and put under the Christmas tree for Zeke- don't tell him!)

It seems like people living abroad should try to think about going light on the furniture, since you have to move it around. Luckily, our employer is in the big banana boat business, and we get free shipping for our household goods when we're on our way out of here someday. What a fun day!