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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Chilean Food

We have only tried a few of the typical Chilean dishes since we arrived, though Jimmy has tried more during previous trips here.  Here are two:

Pastel de Choclo - Choclo is corn.  It is basically like a pot-pie of sorts, with corn meal, creamed corn, onions, ground beef, as the central ingredients, then people add different things in addition as per their taste.  Our friend Gloria, Laura's nanny across the hall, surprised us with a small one the other day.  It also had some basil in it.  It was delicious!  This was a small one in an individual ramekin but she offered to prepare us a big one some time that we can just bake ourselves for dinner.  Looking forward to that!

Humitas - I first saw this word on a little sign leaned against a small ice chest outside the grocery store last week - someone was selling them on the street.  I asked a friend what they are, and then also found out that the little fruit and veggie stand that we go to nearby also sells home made ones.  They are like a Chilean version of tamales, but without meat, wrapped in corn husks.  These ones had corn meal with tons of chopped onions and some chopped basil in them, and our friend Meme (Maria Eliana) suggested we eat them with the fresh tomatoes on top.

Cuchufli - These are very light-weight wafer cookies that are filled with manjar (dulce de leche), which is similar to a caramel, but not quite as sweet.

They look like cigars, don't they?

These were the cookies that Caleb helped make at school yesterday, called Cocadas (Found this wiki info about them: They are ground up crackers mixed with manjar (dulce de leche) and shaved coconut, with a few sprinkles added for fun.  Easy no bake cookie recipe for the kids to do.  :)

Differences & Observations, Part I

We have been here for three weeks now!  Some of these differences and observations we have been making are cultural, and some just differences from our previous experience of living abroad in Spain (and without kids) compared to Chile (and with kids)...

Kids are such an amazing cultural bridge; they are the topic of many conversation starters, (mostly for good reasons, sometimes because they're just being a normal 2 year doing something he shouldn't) but either way, we are all humans and kids so far have been the easiest connection point for us to building relationships with those around us.

We are still asking around and trying to figure out what a typical schedule is for young kids here, but so far it seems like they sleep very little.... Haven't quite figured this out yet...  We must be missing something.

We have been here for almost three weeks and I've yet to visit the downtown city center area or any tourist sites (kid museums don't really count...).  Definitely a different style of 'travel' than I am used to!

I have only been outside after dark once, and it was barely dark as I was getting back from the grocery store, but enough to see that their street lights shine differently than at home, and nice and bright.

Living in a big city is always noisy, but you become far more aware of each and every noise when you live in one with kids.  A few prevalent examples:  There are a lot of dogs = a lot of dogs barking during hours when we/the kids are trying to sleep.  There are a lot of car alarms continually going off, figured this one out today while at a park near our house - a big truck drove by on a little street and the rumbling set it off.

I would say probably 90% of the dogs I see here are small and white.  Not just that they are small dogs, but that they are nearly all white ones of different breeds...

The architecture of many of the houses in our neighborhood is very pretty - many of them are older with a lot of charm, but I would describe them as a colonial style as well as houses that you might see in the English countryside, in neighborhood clusters surrounded by tall apartment buildings like ours.

Jimmy pointed out to me that this randomly placed palm tree is actually covering a cell tower.  Kinda takes away some of the charm, huh?  This house seems to me like it belongs in a book we read in a high school English class, like Wuthering Heights or something...
Several houses adjoined under one roof.  

Living on the 20th floor we don't get hardly any flies or bugs coming in. Very nice.

Getting change for the community laundry room is not easy here.  The machines only take two sizes of coins, and many of the nearby businesses don't keep a ton of change on hand and sometimes don't want to switch out all of our little coins for the ones the machines accept.

Everything here is expensive.  We knew it wouldn't be super cheap, but things seem to be much more expensive in reality than we imagined.

People are all very friendly and helpful, especially when I go places alone with Caleb and Landon during the day.  They will help us up and downstair cases, open doors, etc.  Caleb has been enjoying waving to the building concierge each time we come or go, and has started saying "Hola" to some of them, too.  He is getting more comfortable repeating some basic phrases with people lately.

More to come soon...

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A few of our friends

Here are a few of the friends we have made in the first two weeks... (some pictures taken by Caleb or Laura with Caleb's kiddie camera... you can guess which by the funny camera angles).

Caleb's friend, Laura!  She lives right across the hall from us, and they are the same age.
One of the first people we met, Gloria.  She is from Peru, and is the nanny (nana, they call them) for Laura, the little girl across from our apartment.  She and I enjoy talking together, she has made us some yummy Chilean food, and is always offering to help me/us in any way possible. 
In the background is Alondra.  She is another of the nanas in the building that takes care of (see next picture)
... this cute little one, Antonia Belen, who is two months younger than Landon.
This is Valentina, whose mom is the one that told us about the preschool Caleb is going to.  They had a blast chasing each other around the back yard with this noodle yesterday!  Lots of belly laughs :)
You can't see her face, but the girl in the teal shirt is our neighbor, Jessica, who is married to a Canadian guy, Matt
Matt and Jessica's son, Evan (8 months old)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Caleb's first day of school

Today was Caleb's first day of school!  It feels so strange to write that, especially since in my mind, he wouldn't be starting school (preschool) until August, but we realized that it could be a really good opportunity and experience for him here, for additional socialization, and the language of course!  So last night I slept terribly with my mind running all night, just like we do when we know there is something big going on the next day.  Thankfully Caleb slept well, and slept later than usual, which helped get him through to a later nap time today!

We found a little preschool near our house called "Jardin Infantil Pipo" that came recommended by several people we've met, and were able to spend a few hours there last week letting Caleb play and participate with the activities to see if he felt comfortable.  He was quite excited to go today, and also for the cooking theme he knew they would be doing this week.

Caleb will only go Monday - Thursday mornings this week, as it is actually the end of the summer workshop series for the kids - basically a lighter version of the normal preschool schedule, and then the school will be closed for the month of February because its summer here and that is when everyone goes on vacation (just like in Spain during the month of August - family members might remember that from when Jimmy and I were over there...).  If all goes well this week, we are planning to send Caleb for half days during the entire month of March, which is when the regular school year starts here.

He was already anxious to go inside and be done with pictures...
The school is in this beautiful old colonial style house....

This is Caleb's classroom

The red table is the one he sits at, and of course he spotted all the trucks and tractors on the shelves the very first day :)

This was actually from last week when he went to play and check the school out.  Having fun already.

In the background is "Tia Angeles" (the ladies that work there are called 'tias')

I did get a phone call about an hour and a half into the morning that Caleb was asking for me, and he started to cry a little when they put him on to say hi to me, and the director said I should probably come see him.  I expected him to be crying and ready to come home, but I was happy to find that I didn't hear any crying when I walked back into the school, and the other tias told me that he had calmed down and that they would bring him out to say hi to me so he could see me.  I then expected that he might cry and want to go home with me once he saw me, which he has done on other occasions, but he just came and gave me a hug, I held him for a few minutes, then he asked if he could go back in and do the cooking with the class, saying "What do you think we will cook today?  Maybe it will be Tamale Pie..." (one of his favorites).  I stayed at the school the rest of the morning, but out of the room so he could have his own space, and he ended up making it until 15 minutes before the end of school when tia Angeles brought him to me with the pizza he had created in his class.

"Pizza" - a slice of bread, tomato sauce, a slice of ham, slice of cheese, and red bell pepper and salami on top.  They told me to put it in the oven when he got home to melt it, but of course Caleb wanted to eat it right then, so he had it cold and unmelted, but didn't mind a bit!  
As we were getting our pizza ready to take on the walk home with us, I was so happy to hear Caleb ask  if he could come back again.  I excitedly answered, "Yes, how about tomorrow?"  Overall a pretty good first day of school, considering he hasn't staying for that length of time without me, and in a place where is broad (English) vocabulary doesn't help him out very much.  Hopefully tomorrow we can make it the whole three hours without a phone call... :)

Iglesia Viña Las Condes

This is the church we checked out today, Iglesia Viña Las Condes (  It is the one that initially caught my attention when I started researching churches before coming here because the feel the website seemed like it might be a contemporary church like we are accustomed to.  It meets in a semi-enclosed covered amphitheater that is part of a very pretty and rustic hotel called Hotel Manquehue.  It is a contemporary church, fairly casual, and full of believers openly worshiping the Lord.  The first hour was full of  30-40 minutes of worship, offering, and prayer, then the children were dismissed to another area of the hotel for their activities while the adults stay for the sermon.  The kids did pretty well for the first part in with us, and were excited to go to the children's area, but about thirty minutes later they were starting to melt down and we ended up leaving early to get them home for naps.

Part of the adjustment here that we haven't yet done is changing the kids' schedules so that they better fit with the times when people do things here.  For these first couple of weeks we have been doing everything on our own schedule, and not going out with friends or to restaurants, but today was the first time we realized how necessary it will be to at least get them shifted a little bit later so that a day of church stretching them a little bit past their normal nap time doesn't put them 2+ hours past their normal nap times with meltdowns inevitable.  We would love for Sundays at church to be both a good experience for them and for us, and something we can look forward to.

Everyone at Viña seemed very welcoming and we are excited to trying it again next Sunday, hopefully with the kids' schedules slightly later than they were yesterday.  :)  Some other logistics to work out, too, if we continue to go there - its too far to walk with the kids, and a taxi round trip each time might add up quickly...  We'll be looking into bus options, or who knows, maybe someone in our building or our immediate neighborhood goes to the same church and could give us a ride!  Nothing's too big to pray for, right?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Buin Zoo

This weekend's big outing was to the Buin Zoo, outside of Santiago a little ways.  Caleb has been asking to go to the zoo all week, so he was really looking forward to today, and he was also very excited to get to take trains (both Metro and regional trains) to get there, and each time Landon saw one pulling in or out of the stations he got very excited and moved his arm up and down signaling how he and Caleb used to do while saying "Choo-Choo!"

We got to the zoo around 10:45, which appeared to be on the early side for people here because, though a good number of families got off the train with us to go to the zoo, it seemed as though we had the entire place to ourselves.  Probably a good thing so we didn't have to fight crowds or long lines or compete for animal viewing space.  One of the first things I saw was pretty cool - this sign, and several others throughout the park, showed pictures of different zoo animals with quotes, either from scripture or from Mother Teresa about God's creation.  Definitely not something we would expect to see at a zoo in the States.

(Translation: Many, Lord my God, are the works you have done.  Psalms 40:5)
This is Caleb looking for the giraffes so he could show them to us.  Walking in stride with daddy, hands in seriously thoughtful searching position...

Some of Jimmy's close up camera work (he proudly took credit for taking these close up shots)...

They came over to us to say hello (or perhaps waiting in hopes we would feed them...)

Landon seems to like visiting the animals much more than Caleb did at a similar age, and his favorite was definitely the wolves (lobos), or "Dogs!!" as he referred to them repeatedly and excitedly.

In addition to searching for the giraffes, Caleb was asking for elephants.  We weren't sure if there were any or not, but we heard one and got our hopes up.  As we got over to that area, we realized we had been hearing it on a recording as part of the music playing.  But then we turned the corner and saw this - a robot elephant - but we didn't tell Caleb that, and just played it up that wow there is the elephant!  It seems like he bought it :)  It was actually pretty real looking and it moved its head, ears and trunk and made elephant sounds. 

Apparently the reason for a fake elephant was threefold:  Elephants are accustomed to being in herds of 5-6, and without the others, they get depressed; Elephants walk up to 10 km (a bit over 6 miles) each day, so they require very vast amounts of land to live comfortably and not become stressed and depressed; and I can't remember the last one, but they all made sense and kind of made you feel glad that they didn't have an elephant being kept in inadequate conditions.  

Think he enjoyed his ice cream bar?

Tired little boys...
... get a second wind on the way home for a few minutes...

Carrousel at the central train station
...and then crash at the end of the day.  Caleb fell asleep while reading a book at bedtime. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A few prayer requests...

There are a few things we would appreciate prayer for this week...

-  For all of us to be healthy!  Kids have had colds and runny noses, and Jimmy felt really crummy over the weekend and is now with a long-lingering sore throat.  
- For my patience with the kids as we get situated here.
- For us to find a church here.  We planned on checking one out last Sunday but didn't because Jimmy felt so awful.  We're excited to visit one this Sunday is Satan doesn't still more obstacles in our path in the meantime! 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Our first friend!

Today was the first day we went and did something outside of our apartments with a new friend!  She is a little girl named Laura who is the same age as Caleb (born in the month of July, too!), and lives right across the hall from our apartment.  She and her 'nana' (nanny) Gloria, as they call them here, went with us to a park nearby.  Every outing we have had in these first ten days has been very slow and tedious, with Caleb usually lagging behind.  Not today.  He was running ahead of us in the way he runs when he is excited.  I think he was so excited to be going somewhere with a friend, even though he didn't actually play all that much with her once at the park.

There were three other kids at the park who were running and playing chase and he quickly joined them and was having a blast with them.  He was quickly picking up on some of the words he heard them saying in Spanish, and trying to repeat 'corre! corre!' (run, run) when they said it.  I loved seeing him have so much fun with kids he couldn't even communicate with and listening to the things they were saying.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

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MIM = Museo Interactivo Mirador (Mirador Interactive Museum) -  This is another one of the many fun offerings Santiago has for children, and we went this afternoon to check it out (despite the fact that Jimmy woke up feeling feverish, sore throat, and achy today - prayers needed for him to feel better quickly and for the rest of us to not get the same thing, especially as the kids are still trying to get over a cold..).  This museum is about all different aspects of science, technology, the history of mining in Chile  (huge copper exporter), the senses, etc.  You could say it is comparable to the Exploratorium in San Francisco.  Loads of fun.

The first activity you see upon entering is a giant piano keyboard that kids 5 and under can play with their feet (a la Big).  Landon, loving music as he does, had a lot of fun with it, and the second time we played on it Caleb joined in the fun as well.

<Video: Caleb and Landon playing the piano with their feet >:

I'm sure this is just the first of many arm wrestling sessions Caleb and Jimmy will have in years to come...
Taking a (toddler) break (ie barely long enough to snap this picture!)

By far Caleb's favorite part was getting to be on a construction team that had to work together to build a house out of bricks.  He did really well, considering it was for kids 4+ and he doesn't understand a lot of what the guy was telling them to do (we helped him with that).  Some kids were asked to work on the second level, others controlling the buckets to bring bricks up, some on the crane, and others stacking bricks on the ground level, which is what Caleb did.  He had SO much fun filling his wheel barrel and stacking the bricks!

The (foam) bricks

Laying the bricks to form the walls of the house

<Video: Caleb the construction worker>:

Other kids bringing bricks up to the second floor with a bucket pulley system

When they were done building all the kids went upstairs together and got to throw all of the foam bricks over the walls onto the ground below before going down to stack them all back onto the walls.  They had a great time!

On the way out we ran through these areas of long rubber tubes swaying in the wind.  There were four sections of them.  A fun tactile experience...

Another fun, yet tiring day.  Now to sleep I go, praying I don't get Jimmy's sickies...