Grapes are a big deal for New Year’s Eve here in Peru. They have a tradition where they eat grapes for every month of the year for good luck as the clock strikes 12. I don’t believe in this superstition, but I do not mind one bit the sale that they have for seedless grapes in the grocery stores!
This is one of Greg’s absolute favorite salads. Salad is a little misleading… it is definitely a dessert. 🙂
I first heard about this salad from a friend in my masters program back in Memphis, TN. She had told me that it makes a great potluck dish. Our supporting church at Cedar Lane made a cookbook for us before we left, and I was happy to see Evelyn Curlee’s recipe for this little gem. Thanks, Evelyn!
It is a really easy salad to put together. So easy in fact, that my kids can help me. Even the two-year-old. 😉
And for the record, we don’t have sour cream here in Arequipa. I substitute natural yogurt, and it comes out just fine. I also scored on a 3 for 2 deal on Philadelphia Cream Cheese at the store too. Cheers to a cheaper New Year’s Eve Dessert!
baking three pumpkin pies for the cafe + baking one pecan pie for the cafe + baking one pumpkin and one pecan for our celebration + green rice (a McKinzie family fave) + asparagus roll-ups (a Bills family fave) + sweet potato casserole (an everybody fave) + my teammates’ food contributions =
THANKSGIVING IN PERU 2013!!!
I hope to have more pictures for Post #2 later today. We always miss celebrating at home with blood family, but we are blessed and excited to celebrate with Team Arequipa today.
One fresh food that you can find year-round here in AQP is fresh avocado. In Peruvian Spanish, the avocado is called “palta.” A dish that I absolutely love, and that I think is absolutely brilliant is stuffed avocados. It is as simple as cutting a palta in half, removing the skin and seed, and filling it with chicken salad. Serve it on a bed of greens with fresh tomato and red onion, sprinkle on some seasoning, and you have a delicious, healthy meal.
I am beyond excited to see my little sister tomorrow morning. She will fly into Arequipa at 7:30. It has been a year since I have seen any of my family. Katy is arriving, spending less than a week with us, and then she will be flying with the three kids and me back to the states. The only time Katy visited was when I gave birth to Maggie. That was more than FOUR years ago. So much has changed, and I am so excited to show her AQP again with new eyes.
I am beyond excited for our state-side visit as well. It has been a year since our last visit. Greg and I are scheduled to leave Peru permanently in 2015 so this is our last furlough for this run. It is definitely bitter-sweet to think that our return to Peru from furlough will also be our last for a long while. While in the states, we will be doing some visiting with TA 2.0 members (the families moving to AQP in 2014) which is really exciting.
Anyway… lots to be excited about.
I am not a fan of airports, and if I am honest, I always get a little nervous before flying. I worry which I know I shouldn’t. I worry about things that are out of my hands so worrying really doesn’t help anything. We have flown a lot since we live in a foreign country, but that hasn’t helped. And it always seems like we can never fly home without some sort of drama. Paperwork or delays or kids getting sick before leaving, etc. I thought I would record it this time around (especially since this is our last furlough to take for awhile)…
1. I noticed that there is only an hour and 40 minutes between my arrival to Lima and our departure to the states. If you account for possible delays out of AQP + waiting for bags to come out (which sometimes takes forever) + standing in line to check-in for the international flight + going through immigrations + hauling 3 kids through an airport, you can see my worry.
I am so thankful that Katy will be helping me with luggage and kids and that Lima is overly gracious to those of us with children (as in, they will see me with 3, guide me to the front of the line, and even escort me through immigrations if we are tight in making our connection). I am also thankful for my children. I really am not nervous at all about traveling with my kids. They are great travelers. Having mis-behaving kids is a stressor that I am so thankful that I DON’T have to deal with.
2. Peruvian law states that in order for a parent to leave the country with children without the other parent (and this applies to Peruvian citizens only–Maggie and Cohen are citizens), they must have a signed, notarized letter stating permission from the parent staying back. I have traveled with kids by myself two different times, and they always ask for the letter. I have a friend that traveled to Lima from AQP, and they refused for her to pass immigrations to catch her flight without the written consent of her spouse.
Greg and I went to the notary office yesterday. Of course, the notary had already gone home and today is a holiday. We were told that we could come on Monday to get it done. Easy-peasy, until the secretary told Greg something we weren’t expecting… “You need the birth certificate for each child.” That’s right. Their passport isn’t enough to prove they were born. You may think, “What’s the big deal? Just bring the birth certificate you have in your file at home.” We would, except that Peru has this crazy deal where birth certificates are only valid for 6 months. I guess it is one way they make money for the government (“Hey, let’s require people to show their birth certificates for every possible thing, but make it where they have to buy a new copy every half-year. Think of all the money that will bring in!”). Greg doesn’t remember us having to show their birth certificates the last time we got the letters. We are hoping the secretary is wrong.
We get home, and Greg realizes something else. Their birth certificates (proving that WE are their parents) have our residential visa numbers on them for the proof. Our residential visas expired this past year! They make you fingerprint everything here, so now we are hoping that they can identify us by our fingerprints. Never a dull moment.
So… I am so excited to see Katy. And I am so excited to be traveling to my home country. I am just praying that we get there without any major drama. It is out of my hands, and honestly, I am to the point in this culture where I laugh at the drama that unfolds every.single.time we have to do something like this. I am just praying that Katy arrives safely and that we arrive safely to the states (whether it be on-time or majorly delayed). We shall see. One more week.
This is a totally random post, but I feel like life with three kids and the work here have gotten the best of me, and I just haven't made the time to blog about the simple things in our life here. I love blogging and journaling about little snippets of our life. So this afternoon, while the girls are working on homework (they have a week of vacation next week which means they have tons of homework–sounds more like vacation for the teachers only, doesn't it??), I am going to write a short post on something new in our home.
For the past year, we have rented the “upper room” from our next-door neighbors. We didn't have enough room for our living room furniture and our big long table. Also, Greg needed a quiet place to study. So, we rented a big room next door, and that is where Greg's office and our church meetings have taken place for the past year.
Last week, our neighbors let us know that they are planning to turn the big room (and the rest of the second floor area) into an apartment to rent out. They said we could have the space for as long as it took them to get the apartment ready. Also, there used to be a door to their side (easy access for us), but our landlord decided to brick the space up last week (whole other story) and so it isn't even easy to go over there anymore.
All that to say is that we decided to make some changes. Greg needs his office space. We decided to make a partition in our current living room, move some of the couch furniture to the other side, and move all of Greg's office stuff to our living space side.
I actually really like it. Our living room is long and narrow. After Greg put his bookshelves in (as the wall) it seemed so much homier (did I spell that right?). Here is a little glimpse of his “office.” And for the record, he has asked for soundproof head phones for his birthday. 🙂
The backs of the bookshelves are all unfinished. Greg looked at me and asked, “What are you going to do to those?” I replied, “What do I do to everything? I add pictures!” I have been waiting to print and frame the pictures we had taken last October since… last October. I figure it might still be awhile (and this solution comes out cheaper) so I decided to make it our family picture gallery. Who says unfinished bookshelves can't look good???
So here it is… the cozy McKinzie living room quarters:
In two weeks the visitor train begins. And it won't end until next year. There is a good reason to keep things cozy around here. 😉
Here in Peru, they swear a group of kids in to the school “Police Academy” each year. This group of kids is chosen based on their academic and social performance. They agree to be exemplary students, and to watch out for the needs of their other classmates, academically and socially. When I told Greg about it, his immediate reaction was, “Oh no! That is like the equivalent of the hall monitor. Our daughter is going to get beat up by the mean kids.” Ha!
Well, she is only in first grade. I don’t think the bullies are that vicious yet. (keepin’ my fingers crossed) Here are some pictures of the ceremony. It is always fun to observe the culture and their traditions that are so different from our own. It is crazy to me that my kids can sing every word to the Peruvian national anthem.
I know that I am expressive. You never have to guess what I am thinking because it is “written all over my face.” We have a joke here on our team that I can never have a candid picture taken where my face isn’t contorted somehow. Julia and Kalin visited last week, and they agreed to get pictures of our library day. I thought it would be fun to post the pictures they got of me during a read-aloud. It isn’t a joke. It is real. I don’t do well with candid shots, but at least you know that I get into the reading. 🙂
Well, I have never been given the compliment “you are so photogenic.” 🙂 But here in the Living Library Program, I am very happy to say that I work on a great team of “expressive” people. I feel that I am not so alone… 🙂
April 19 is your birthday. I am writing your post late, and I plan to write your big sister’s birthday post after this (her’s will be more than one month late!). And that, my son, is a sign that life is just a bit more full with three little people instead of two and most definitely one. I have quite a few pictures to post here. I hope to shed light on you as a two-year-old by describing what is going on in these pictures…
It is hard to believe that you have gone from this little face on Day 1…
to this cute little 2-year-old face this month…
Here is a little bit about you:
1. You LOVE anything that has wheels, and you especially love the sounds they make. You ask every day if you can “Play” (draw out the “ehhhh” in that word) which means the sandbox. You will spend hours out on our little patio shoveling sand and moving your dump trucks around (your Xmas present). It was very appropriate that you had a “transportation” theme for your birthday party.
2. You are showing the true colors of a “Terrible Two” here lately. Neither of your sisters ever threw fits so this is a new arena for us. You tend to throw punches when you don’t get your way, scream out when you don’t get what you want, and you are a pro at body contortion so that it is hard to hold you. We are working on that. You spend way more time “in your room” because of this, and I have a feeling you will be having more “stern talks” from your daddy and momma than your sisters needed. You look really cute in this little shopping buggy, but I have come to despise them. You throw a fit going into the store if I don’t put you in one (they don’t hold very many groceries), and the one time I put you in one (here), you r.e.f.u.s.e.d. to get out when it was time. Let’s just say we have had our share of times when I was “that mom” in the grocery store and Plaza Vea. You are VERY passionate about your wheels.
3. You are my little buddy. I have chosen to grocery shop on Sunday mornings so that you can stay at the house with big sisters and Daddy. But you are my shopping buddy on Monday mornings, Wednesday mornings, and Friday mornings when I stroll you to the café. Ana isn’t usually with us, but this is your get-up: the stroller and your little sombrero (the hat Ana wore at her very first jardín).
4. You are the stereotype for “boy.” Nature definitely wins the argument, because we have not encouraged the things you tend to like. As your Daddy reflected the other day, not only do you love things with wheels, you prefer “chucks” (trucks) to “carrrrrrz” (cars) and you prefer “chactoors” (tractors) to trucks. No one has taught you these things. You just know. But having two big sisters still gives you a sweet, gentle side. It is a common scene to see you pushing the stroller around, cooking in the play kitchen and bringing me something “Hahhhhhhhttt” (hot), or pretending you are going to the market with your purse and cellphone.
5. You annunciate the ends of words so well. If a word ends in a consonant, you pronounce it very clearly. I know your Aunt Katy (the speech path) would enjoy listening to your speech development. You are talking more and more. My favorite short phrases that you say right now are “Ahh-own-no” (I don’t know) and “Top itt!” (Stop it). Our favorite word that you say is milk. You sound a little bit like a cow and ask for “Mee-ehhllll-kkk.” Ha! You also speak a lot more Spanish than your sisters did at your age. You are home every Thursday by yourself with Manuela. She has taught you so many words, and you respond correctly in your actions when she asks you to do something in Spanish. One word you act on very quickly is “baile” (dance). You shake it like a real latino. Manuela takes credit and is very proud of you. You have also just recently come up with a breakdance move where you spin on the floor off of your hands. 🙂
6. You love “bahhls” (balls) and to “tump” (jump). You have just recently been getting some air on your jumping, but it has to be one of the funniest things I have ever seen. Your mother can be heard giggling a mile away when you are showing off your “tumping” skills.
7. You are still taking a mid-day nap (around 2 hours) and you sleep from 7 pm to 7 am. You are a fantastic sleeper and every baby-sitter that puts you to bed tells us that you are super easy to lie down. Your routine is still paci, blanket, and monkey, but you have started going to bed with a few trucks lately. We have not transitioned you to the big bed (your sisters were sleeping in big beds months before turning two) because you are too good of a climber and you just won’t stay in the bed (we tried one night). I am happy with you being in the pack-n-play for now. You can reach the plug to your fan and the switch to the lamp, so there are many late nights that I come in after you have fallen asleep to plug the fan back in and turn the lamp off.
8. You have this thing right now where you act like a cat. If we say the word “cat” you transform. You get down on all fours, meow, and answer in a high-pitched cat voice. Many mornings I come in to get you out of bed and I pick up a cat instead. It is very helpful when you desire for me to chase you. All I say is “hey there little kitty-cat” and you transform and crawl over to me. Ha!
9. You treat Ana like a second mom. You go to her when you are sad or want to be comforted. You ask her for help. You treat Maggie like your twin sister. You guys fight, hit, and bicker with the best of them. But you also love chasing each other around in laughter.
10. You love getting a hold of “lellows.” I am not sure why you call “markers” that, but you throw a fit when I catch you with one that your sisters leave out. You think you are so big when you get to color with markers.
11. You are affectionate. You have no problem with the Peruvian greeting and good-bye of kissing someone and hugging them. You say so many of the Peruvian names. Your favorites are “Dita” (Anita), “Vina” (Etelvina), and of course, “Lela” (Manuela).
12. You LOVE Manuela. You run down the stairs when you think you hear her coming in. You show her all of your trucks, lining them up in the kitchen for her, and you always want to eat breakfast with her (even if you have already eaten). You prefer “pan” (the Spanish word for bread) like a true Peruvian. Again, she takes great pride in teaching you these things. She planned to come to your birthday party (which is huge because she usually won’t come to activities I invite her to on her day off), but she ended up being sick. But the next day she worked, she brought you a complete set of tractors with a trailer. You love them, but not as much as she loves you. 🙂
Here are some pics from your birthday party. We invited all the boys from the church, but the Peruvians couldn’t make it. You had an all kids-gringo party…
Cohen Timothy, what a joy you are. You are not our little baby boy anymore. We love you, and I want you to know that your momma treasure all of these things in her heart.
Tomorrow is “Save the Water” Day. I bring Maggie home from school and roll my eyes at the comunicado (the word here for “memo”) that says I need to buy half of a poster board and create a slogan for a mock riot parade about taking care of the water. (Yes, they teach them young here. You never know when a good reason to riot will arise.) Frustration with the culture.
“What water?!?” I think to myself. Ever since the major flooding they have turned our water off for the whole day or part of the day. Yesterday was actually the first full day of water, but they turned our electricity off 3 different times. We can't win. “Save the Water we WISH we had!” is the slogan I want to use. I'll refrain. The water was off again when we woke up this morning… but we had lights. Frustration with the culture.
I help Mags with homework, and I notice that her teacher has written me a note about completing homework better. My three-year-old has homework everyday. Instead of something easy like coloring, they always want her to use some specially colored tissue paper to roll up in little balls and glue to the paper. Do I have colored tissue paper laying around my house? The answer is no. Do I have time to go to the store while keeping 3 kids in the house? No again. I write a note in my elementary Spanish explaining that I spent more than 800 soles on school stuff this year, and if I am supposed to have a separate list in my house she should have provided it. I have no idea how that will come across… coming from an elementary Spanish speaker. Frustration with the culture.
I help Maggie with her homework, fix her a plate for lunch, and excuse myself from the house to walk up to the bodega (a small convenience store) to ask about the poster board. It only costs 50 centimos for a whole sheet, and the owner (my neighbor and friend) explains a word on the memo that I didn't understand. So thankful for knowing the “hood” and having neighbors to help me in a culture I sometimes don't understand…
I return home and make the poster for Maggie to carry the next day. We go over to “the other side” (a room we rent from our close neighbors, Anita and Nadia, where the printer is kept). While I am printing off the pages I hear Maggie performing her songs from school (all in Spanish) and Anita and Nadia celebrating and applauding her show with “Bravo.” So thankful for Peruvians that love and encourage my kids…
I come out and ask if Maggie is being a bother. They say she is fine so I return to the printer to finish. By the time I am done and come out, Maggie has found her place at their table eating a pancito and waiting for her tecito (bread and hot tea). I roll my eyes at her as they laugh. It's obvious that “tu casa es su casa” (your house is her house), I say to Anita. She giggles. So thankful for dear friends and trusted neighbors…
I return to the side of the house where Greg and Cohen are to finish the poster for water day. “Ahhhh!” I suddenly exclaim. It is 2:35, and I have forgotten about watching the time to pick up Ana. “Oh, wait. I am fine. I just heard the bell ring.” Greg laughs at me. So thankful for a school so close to our home that I can hear the bell inside my living room…
I go and pick Ana up from school. She says she has had a good day. I check on Maggie on my way into the house. She is still chatting away with her “amigas” over tea and bread. Ana changes her clothes and reads a letter addressed to her out-loud (she has been practicing her English reading). It is from her Great-Granddad, and she is thrilled. So thankful for family from afar that my kids treasure and that take the time to send a letter in the mail for a 6-year-old's birthday…
Ana changes her clothes and disappears. Her sandwich is waiting for her. Where is she? I go out the front door and look into Anita and Nadia's patio area. There she is with Maggie. So thankful.
When the day is done, and I reflect on our life here, I can choose to dwell on the frustrations or the things that make me thankful. Today's “thankful” list far outweighs my “frustrations” list. Sometimes that isn't the case, but I choose my attitude. I confess that I choose to not have the attitude of Christ many days or in many situations, but I do know that I love our life here. And for that, I am so thankful.
What a month. Here are some highlights to remember in pictures:
2. the end of Jeremy and Katie’s stay with us was the beginning of the month/they switched over to the Smith casa
3. Our house church multiplied. At times we had 20+ people sitting around our big dining room table. Alfredo and Judith (with their 2 little boys), Roberto and Silvia (with Gabriel and Briana almost here), and Emilia are now meeting over on the side of town where they all live. We did have a big group of little kids for house church, and now it is down to just mine again.
4. Swim lessons. I paid for both Ana and Maggie to take a month’s worth of swim lessons being offered in ASA at the big indoor pool. Maggie ended up not being ready. But Ana ended up having a blast with her two amigas, Baylee and Shaye. She went from swimming laps with 2 floaties on her back to no floaties. I’d say that is majoy improvement! I enjoyed the visiting time I got in with Jenna and Larissa.
5. Reading. We have picked up the pace on homeschooling in English. Ana did a lot of work in February with sight words. She will be attending an all-Spanish speaking school, but I will be supplementing at home with reading and writing English practice.
6. Worst flooding in Arequipa history. (so they say) One evening, the sky opened up and it rained a solid 5 hours of heavy rain. It would have been nothing unusual for a TN summer day, but this city just isn’t constructed to hold together against so much rain. Many of the little pueblo jovens were hit hardest because the rain entered their homes and damaged everything. People had their mattresses laying on top of their houses to dry. On of the major avenues (right down from Kyle and Larissa’s home) caved into the large ditch built for extra water flow. Underpasses were flooded with floating combis. It was crazy.
The aftermath, it is now March and they are still cutting the water off in our community every morning. The whole city isn’t this way, but we must live close to something they are constantly monitoring during the rainy season. I have never been so on top of laundry and washing dishes!
7. Valentine’s Day. Sugar cookies with icing were a big hit with the Peruvians that tasted them so I was commissioned to make them as a V-day special this month. I made them 3 different times (that is about 66 cookies that I sold through the cafe). And I thought Emilia did a great job bagging them up.
Greg and I ended up going out with Jeremy and Katie on Valentines night. We ate at an Italian pizza place, headed over to the cafe for the brownie and ice cream special (which has remained a hit ever since), and played Spades for the last time with them. It was an enjoyable evening.
8. a run for the border. I am so pleased to say that this is behind us. I am actually working on a separarte post for this, but in a nutshell, Greg and I are legal now. Praise God!
9. Bible studies. I met with a group of 12 year-olds this summer (Isa’s friends) every Wednesday afternoon at the cafe. We read through the book of Mark (we got to Chapter 6!). I really enjoyed this time. I wanted to provide a Bible study for Isabel and others her age since she is kind of the loan youth in our house church network. It was really enjoyable. School starts next week, and the girls are going to decided if their is a day that would work to continue the study during the school year. We shall see, but I thoroughly enjoyed working with this age group that I love so much.
Also, Areli and I finished the book of Mark. We had another study after finishing Mark, and she told me that she is ready to be baptized. Praise God! I love this girl. She is such a special friend to me here, and I am elated that we will share our friendship in Christ now.
10. Library work. We are trying to get all of our ducks in a row for the library program. What is exciting is that Alfredo scored us a meeting with the ministry of education. We met twice in February, and we will be meeting the first week of March to sign a contract with the ministry (in order to have their support in offering teachers staff development hours). This is all really exciting. Also, we are actually working on library spaces in both schools. I wish I could take a before and after picture. They are not complete but are in progress. We hope for the library program to be going full-force in the schools by the first week of April.
11. Jeremy and Katie’s last day. We sure enjoyed having the Daggetts here for a long visit. We are super excited about TA 2.0 coming in 2014. The time will fly, and I am sure we will see them this fall sometime.
12. Missio Dei 4.1 February has been crunch time for the February edition of Greg’s semiannual mission journal. I am always so proud of him, and I know the hard work he and so many others put into this journal to make it what it is. Click on the caption to get to the online journal.