Monday, December 24, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
The kids immediately went wading
Naomi just wanted to swim, but the lake is way too cold!
Phoebe in her favorite pose for the camera.... We must have 15 pictures of her posing like this.
Here's Chloe after her freezing cold dip in the lake!
Here I am getting yet another sunburn... I have since bought a hat.
The beach was beautiful when we left at dusk.
This is downtown Bariloche, as you can see a storm is brewing...
This picture was near the beach looking uptown.
This is looking out the window of our condo. Mike took it on a fairly gloomy day.
School has ended here in South America and it seems everyone in this country (and many, many others) head to Patagonia. Traffic has increased A LOT and we're starting to hear more people speaking english on the streets, as well as portuguese, german, french and more. On the plus side we are signing the lease on our new apartment this week, and thanks to the 20 hours of spanish class the girls took this week we're finally ready for Christmas!
Monday, December 10, 2007
I've also found enough candles for the last two nights of Hanukkah. I think they're really Christmas candles and I had to hand carve each one to fit in the menorah, but they'll do.
Last but certainly not least we may have found an apartment. It has three bedrooms and an amazing view of the lake. It's next to the city center and on the seventh floor. I hope we get it, we're really excited. My two youngest thought it was great, but Chloe was bothered by the unusual smells you notice when looking at city apartments. Oh well not everyone can be happy....
Friday, December 7, 2007
While we waited for the bus to pick us up Mike took this picture of the condo we're staying in for the month. It's the little wood building in the center.
This is a nice house nestled in the Andes. The bus ride to El Bolson was a beautiful one, but sitting in the back of the swerving shaking bus was pretty nauseating. Poor Phoebe lost her breakfast.
One of the many beautiful scenes outside the bus window on our ride.
Here's the girls on the bridge at a trout farm outside of El Bolson. They're over the pond with the adult fish, 6 to 8 months old. The kids loved this place.
Some of the juvenile trout at the farm. They are 2-4months old. They let us feed the adult trout. It was amazing how these huge fish would frenzy and jump out of the water to get the food.
There were so many dogs and cats at the farm and Naomi loved them all. This saint bernard puppy tried to follow the girls around.
This is a tree sculpture near the amazing artisan's market in El Bolson. The market was dusty, but not too crowded with good (and safe) food and a great collection of incredibly cheap crafts. El Bolson is at an elevation of 4000 ft whereas Bariloche is 7000ft so even though it's farther south, it's soo-o much hotter!
This is Rio Azul outside of El Bolson. To get to this vista the tour bus drove up a dusty dirt road quite a distance, through a "barrio" of the town with homes that were missing doors and windows. The tour guide joked that "all these people have such nasty homes with cars that are nicer than mine!"
This is really a beautiful part of the world. I just signed the children up for a week of Spanish immersion. The 20 hours of childcare will be useful while we try and find an apartment. ....
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
While walking through the artisan's market place in Bariloche's city center we found a little troll that looks just like "Dobby".
While we waited for the bus in the city the kids climbed a tree.
We took a cable car to the top of Cerro Otto (one of the nearby mountain peaks).
Here are the kids waiting for the cable car to launch.
In the building at the top was a gallery dedicated to Michelangelo. This is a 3/4 replica of the David.
The girls looking out from the top. Searching for the lake monster!
The view from the top. Below is the lake.
Saturday, December 1, 2007
Our first challenge came with the rental car from Greenville to the airport. The only available car from ANY rental place in the Albany area was a sedan. So for the first time in almost four years we had to cram our family of 5 into a sedan with 10 pieces of luggage and 6 carry-on bags. So two hours after Animals Away came to pick up Pushy (our cat), off we drove with our knees to our chins to JFK International Airport in NYC, Wednesday afternoon. We did surprisingly well and arrived with plenty of time. By the time we boarded our flight at 10:10pm we were pretty wiped but glad to be really on our way.
The flight itself, other than being incredibly uncomfortable was fairly uneventful. The kids slept, though Chloe and I woke up at 3am (NY time) over the rain forest. The plane was shaking badly and I could see lightning flashing out the window past Phoebe's head. I hate flying through lightening storms. Whoever told me international flights were more comfortable and nice than domestic ones was obviously lying to make me feel better.
Traveling in Argentina with the girls is like having a VIP pass. Everyone here loves children. They cut us through the line at customs in Beunos Aires, and didn't open or inspect a single bag. Even though we managed to get through 27 lessons of Pimsleur's Spanish before we left, I seem to just say "Si" and "Gracias" all the time with a big grin on my face. All those phrases I know escape me at the worst moments.
Our first impression of Beunos Aires is HOT. It's summer here and there are palm trees so that means sub tropical. It reminded me of being in Manhatten in the summer, something I tried to avoid when I lived there. We stayed in a hotel on Avenea Florida (a pedestrian only street in the city center).
Immediately on arriving in our hotel room Naomi went into the bathroom and came out 45 seconds later drenched from head to toe. " Mommy there's a fountain!". I went into the bathroom to see she turned on the bidet and everything was soaked . All the toilet paper, and tissues, the floor, the walls.
Thursday evening we walked the kids to a beautiful park across the street. The kids played on the playground for two hours and I was so proud of Chloe, she made a friend right away. She took the little girl's address right there in the park and said she'd write. They teach english in the schools here and the girl was 12 years old and VERY interested in Chloe.
Friday morning we checked out of the hotel and went off to the airport, beginning our third day of travel. We arrived at the airport early for our flight to Bariloche. Unfortunately here in Argentina that doesn't mean we sat casually at our gate waiting for our flight. Domestic flights are often delayed (which it was) and they don't know which gate until boarding. This meant some false starts running from one gate to another. When we finally boarded we looked out the window to the where the tunnel ended and just didn't see a plane there. People were showing their boarding passes and just disappearing down the tunnel. After some jokes about taking Wonder Woman's invisible plane we realized we had to go downstairs and get on a bus. Which brought us to a new location to board. The kids really liked going up the steps into the back door of the plane.
Two and a half hours later we arrived in Bariloche and needed jackets again. We met Zach the owner of the condo we're staying in. He's a nice and helpful guy from San Francisco. The condo fee includes a phone with free service to the US so I think I'll be making some calls..... Ciao!
Sunday, November 25, 2007
We have so much to do it's hard to think straight and we all seem to be coming down with something. My throat is killing me. I'm glad to be busy though, then I don't have to think so much about everyone we're leaving. It's been so hard to say goodbye...
Last week my old dog Enzo went blind and started falling down the stairs. My father-in-law and his wife offered him a home with them and we realized it was the kindest thing we could do for him. We left him with them on Thanksgiving.. Now I'm getting teary-eyed in the pet department at Walmart... I really hoped we'd ALL be going (except the fish). Even my cat, Pushy, misses him. They'll take good care of him, though.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Here's Phoebe with her cake at her "Teddy Bear" party. It was fun all the kids brought their teddies. We made honey comb necklaces for the bears, played "Pass the bear", I got out the parachute and we put all the bears in and tried to shake them off, the winner was the one who's bear stayed on the longest.... This didn't work so well all the bears stayed in a big clump, but we had fun trying.
This is my nephew "T" with a friend, Kaylee. "T" won the parachute game.
Here are my three girls and my niece and nephew later on that day.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
We went shopping this past weekend and I bought all three girls yellow shirts with chickens on them for the day(s) we fly. I read that bright colored shirts can help you keep track of your kids in a busy airport. The same article also suggested giving them emergency whistles... I think I'd rather NOT get kicked off the plane though.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
South America has no confirmed cases at this time, and ticks are very rare at the altitude we're moving to. This is very good, since, now that Chloe has lymes she has to get a blood test whenever a tick is found on her.
I guess I should feel lucky that we're not all sick, but somehow that's not making me feel better.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Oh well, now we just have to throw a party, pack up everything we own and go to the other side of the world... cake :)
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
As you can see, while we've been planning our big move to Argentina, my dog Enzo's found other things to do. He's the craziest mixed breed dog, but very cute. In fact he looks very much like his five sons in this picture. The mother (our neighbor's dog)is a pure bred American Eskimo. A pretty white dog that looks nothing like her puppies. Anyway we found homes for all five little guys.
We've also been running all over the region getting official copies of birth certificates, our marriage certificate, letters of good behavior from the local sheriff and a ton of other documents for our visa to Argentina. Then of course there's the packing and organizing of everything we own. Most things start to seem less essential once we realized the best way to get our possessions into the country was to carry them ourselves. So now it's down to two suitcases each and one carry-on (no problem-right?)
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Without the funds from a house sale we don't have the money for a Brazilian investor visa, but because of the auction house that deals Mike's work we qualify for a rentisa visa to Argentina. Our second choice city is called San Carlos de Bariloche. It's a beautiful place near the border of Chile, and next to the Andes mountain range. The city has an alpine style to it and is famous for it's skiing and it's chocolate ( this sold it for my kids). There are chocolate shops everywhere and a big chocolate factory that offers tours. There's also a three hour hike you can take to the top of the Villarrica Volcano and see the lava lakes inside!
We've been working on spanish this last week or so and it's muy bien! It's very close to portuguese, and I'm still hoping we'll get over to Curitiba to see the city and practice our language skills there. Our flight has been booked for Nov. 28th, out of JFK, and I've set up our temporary housing for one month ( hopfully that will give us enough time to find an apartment).
We've starting filling our storage space here and we're getting rid of whatever we can. The kid's start school here tomorrow. They'll stay long enough to finish one trimester, then when we arrive it'll be summer there. They'll start all over again when March rolls around (in spanish), in the local schools.
I'm not sure if spanish is an incredibly easy language to learn or if I'm just getting better at picking up languages, but in just one week we went through five Pimsluer lessons, (we did one a week with portuguese). It probably gets harder as we go along.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
I'm trying to get as much work done on my graphic novel as I can this week as I'll be quite busy next week, teaching my summer writing workshop at the library and reading Harry Potter (the final book will be here soon!). I signed up all three kids to go to a Harry Potter party on Friday night... It sounds like it should be fun they're running tons of activities, and the kids are getting dressed up.
Oh boy, I seem to be yawning uncontrollably. Chloe's in a fiction writing class that starts at 8am, so I've been getting up at 6:45am... I'm just not a morning person. It's my own fault, as usual I've scheduled my kids through the whole summer with various camps and activities. It's a compulsion I have to keep them busy (it also keeps them from the TV and from fighting with each other). Oh well, till next time.
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
Here is a picture of our house. We just lowered the price...again. I'm so tired of owning a house, I can't wait to just be a renter with a lease again. It's really a nice home, four bedrooms and two bathrooms on 3 acres of land with a mountain view.
On the plus side I've been getting a lot of work done on my book lately. I'm almost done penciling the pages for chapter 5 of my graphic novel, "The Horribles" ( a middle-grade gothic children's book). We've also been spending a lot of time at Zoom Flume water park (we got the season pass). It's really been fun, though I could see being quite sick of the place by August!
Anyway, it's the fourth of July and even though it's pouring rain, my children desperately need to see some fireworks. Should be fun...
Thursday, June 21, 2007
I did this drawing by the campfire on Saturday. In the fire is two pans with burritos that were being heating up for dinner and inside the box they were somehow baking cookies. Despite the unsteady cot, the latrines and the serious shortage of available coffee, it was nice spending time with Phoebe.
This week we finally got our passports in the mail (all but Mike's). The passport photos look just as bad as when we sent them in. It's strange we all looked pretty good that day, and every photo came out lousy except Phoebe's. My theory is they want the photo to look like you will after getting off a long international flight. It must be something about that camera.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
This never sounds like that big a deal to people who've never experienced it, but a bear in person, and NOT behind a fence, is really scary. We used to have bear troubles when we lived deep in the woods on our mountain in the Catskills. We even had a huge bear on our deck at the front door once. Our closest neighbor up there had a bear try to break down his door while he cowered in the corner with a stick. I had hoped we left our bear troubles back at the old house. At least today's bear was just a little guy, only 200lbs or so....
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Our kitchen is finished, so we're hopeful the next people who come through here will want to buy our house. On Wednesday our realtor is giving a brokers tour so we really need clean up and maybe pack more things. I also found a relocation consultant who will work with us in Curitiba. She'll help us find housing, settle the kids in school and maybe even meet us when we fly in.
Chloe tried out for an instrument at school and got trumpet! I think it's great she was chosen for a jazz instrument. I told her if she does well I'll buy her the pretty red one I found online for Christmas.
Next Sunday we'll make our first trip over to Zoom Flume. We bought a season pass this year, since I highly doubt we'll ever live less than 5 minutes from a water park again. We're really looking forward to it.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
#1 I'm writing a comic book series called "The People that melt in the Rain" I have five issues written and have at least that many to go, hopefully I'll get this done soon . It's a complicated mystery about a young girl trapped in a cursed mid-western town.
#2 I'm writing and drawing my first graphic novel called "The Horribles". It's a gothic children's book about a family of horrible monsters.
#3 I'm also hoping to work on my linguistic goals. I want to achieve fluency in Portuguese,and make progress with my understanding of french.
#4 and lastly I'm planning to get TEFL certified (teaching english as a foreign language) while I'm there.
Thank goodness our visa is for five years... maybe I'll get it all done :)
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
|You Are Superman|
Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
And pretty cute too. No wonder you're the most popular superhero ever!
As I filled out this quiz, Mike said he's Spiderman (of course, he wore a spiderman costume to kindergarten under his clothes). He also said no one is ever superman!!!
CLUE #1 - I said I'd like to jump long distances (I've always wished travel could be instant)
Sunday, May 13, 2007
We've broken the news of our planned move to some of our family and friends. There's been a huge range of reactions. Most of our friends have been supportive and encouraging. Some have suggested trying it themselves, others are just sad that we're leaving but have encouraged us none the less. Family members have been a different story. My father in-law's wife was very angry, and yelled at us. Mike's aunt doesn't think we can handle this and called us "rash". My Aunt and Uncle found my blog and told my other aunt and uncle.... They were excited for our adventure ahead and hoped to visit us in Brazil. You only live once! (Unless the Hindus are right).
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
They all immediately told their friends, who didn't believe them, but my kids are persistent and their friends are coming around to the idea.
This week we had our neighbor Joe paint the bathrooms and the stairwell (he's a painting contractor). He did a great job and is moving on to painting the kids rooms tomorrow. We're also getting an estimate on the kitchen. Hopefully these final touches will sell this house!
Anyway, the kids have told everyone they know about our move. It's a little overwhelming for Mike and I. We've kept it to ourselves for so long that we got used to it being a secret... I still have to tell my family though.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
When I woke up last Saturday (the day of the trip), I couldn't move and my throat was on fire... I told Mike to forget it. Forget all the snacks we packed, forget the tickets we prepaid. I'm not moving. Then about ten minutes later I changed my mind and we raced out the door to meet the bus.
The trip was great, I loved not having to drive. The kids behaved well and seem to really like the Boston Aquarium. Naomi, my three year old, had an annoying habit of dropping to her knees every few feet to play with broken glass, or peer down manhole covers trying to see the sewer. I guess she's just a country kid, ... that'll change.
Monday, April 16, 2007
I walked down to the end of my driveway this morning to get the paper. Really I should say I waded down, through a foot of really wet slush that was up to my shins in some places. It's such a disgusting mess outside. I had to change my clothes when I got back... The paper wasn't even worth it.
Mike's birth certificate has come and he applied for his passport on Friday. I think I'll be holding my breath, though, till I have all five passports in hand.
One of the goldfish already died this week (I think it was Goldie). I went out and bought them a big fish bowl with a filter so of course one of them immediately kills itself by swimming in the filter and getting stuck. The kids were sad but got over it quickly...
We're going on the Boston bus trip with the Girl Scouts next week. First stop is the Boston aquarium and then to Quincy Market. I've lived in the northeast my whole life and have never been to Boston (except to drop off Mike's mother at the airport). Anyway we're pretty excited. I'm glad we'll see some of the city before we leave for Curitiba.
Monday, April 9, 2007
This weekend my daughters went to a "Finding Nemo" birthday party. They had a blast and were so-o excited when the little boy's mom gave them a bowl with three goldfish on the way out the door. By the time I pulled the car into our driveway, they were official members of our family, and newly named "Sparkles", "Goldie", and "Bubbles".
Saturday, March 31, 2007
This week we found a Brazilian lawyer who's agreed to help us with visas and finding a realtor in Curitiba. We also lowered the price on our house and Trish (our realtor here) has placed an ad in the local papers. This is all getting pretty real.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
It turns out her oldest son was born while they were living in Hong Kong, they came home on her mother's request when she became pregnant with her second. It was great to talk to someone who's lived as an expatriate. She was so enthusiastic (and jealous) about our plan. We actually had a lot in common. She's reformed Jewish like Mike and her husband is really into comics. I hope we get to meet him. She said they've been talking about New Zealand, I hope they get to go! I guess you never know who you'll meet in McDonalds, that is where we found Enzo (our dog).
Friday, March 16, 2007
We're almost done with our basic portuguese CD's only one (and a half) lessons left, then it's on to conversational. It's great to be making progress, I only wish the kids were more interested. A few years back I decided to get the Muzzy DVDs in french. We bought some french children's books and even found some dolls that speak in french. The kids picked up a few words, and Mike and I learned a lot.
Ever since we started portuguese they've been asking Why? Do we have to? Why are we learning this? Since we're waiting till two months before the actual move to tell them, all we can say is "Just in case we go to Brazil some day". I guess this isn't a good enough answer, last week Chloe told Mike that she was working hard to "ignore the portuguese". Oh well, they say kids pick up languages quickly once they're immersed in it. I guess we'll be testing that... If only they would try.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
When he got home he told me Chloe had written and directed the play as well and the whole class was in it! Now I desperately wish I could go back and cancel my class. Lame Mommy of the Year award goes to....
Monday, March 12, 2007
It's really brought me down these last couple of days. Today I mentioned it to my friend Julie Anne, who runs the story time I bring my three year old to. She was so relieved to hear someone else was as affected by it as she was. Her husband could care less and her brother called her a "Gore Lover" (I image Al's wife would be thrilled to hear that particular term).
I'm so tired of these "flat-earthers", even president pin-head has admitted global warming is a reality. I guess on the plus side it's all moving fast enough that no one will deny it in a few more years.... That's a really lame plus side, I wish I could let myself be a "flat-earther"
Friday, March 9, 2007
I decided to start blogging about our latest journey. The biggest thing we've ever decided to do. We're moving our life and our family to South America. We have many reasons, not the least of which is the cost of our health insurance, which is now more than our monthly mortgage.
The city we've decided on is in Brazil. It's called Curitiba, and is situated on a plateau in the southern part of the country. The city has good public transportation and is very focused on recycling. Recently they even found a world famous painting in the trash thanks to their careful sorting! We think we'll be able to get the visa, but Brazil is tricky. They have a reciprocal program. Whatever your country's immigration policy is for Brazilians, that is the process that you must go through to enter Brazil. Unfortunately since 9-11 it hasn't been easy for Brazilians or anyone from the Third world to get in this country.
Anyway this is the beginning of our journey and the beginning of my blog.