Archive for December, 2007

Jackson’s First Christmas

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!Feliz Festivus!

Festivus Aluminum Pole

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It was another interesting day in Bogota. Jackson has an ear infection and Seth and I have been under the weather. After wearing pj’s until noon we decided to venture out to the grocery store. Yesterday, I waited by the side of the road with Jackson for a cab for more than an hour so I was not too eager to play the taxi game again today. I had a taxi after 10 mins or so yesterday but a well-dressed Colombian women literally walked up as we were climbing in, pushed me out of the way, sweet talked the taxi driver and jumped in. This is a normal, very RUDE custom here. So, today we safely made it to the store and began our shopping. Seth was still feeling sick and pretty dizzy so he went to sit down with Jackson. While he sat trying to find some relief from a headache an elderly man sidled up to him to talk about Jackson. Seth tried to smile quickly and told him that Jack was sick but the man settled in for a chat about how we should buy Jack something similar to ear muffs and then he wouldn’t get ear infections. This is not the first time the general public has tried to inform us of how to keep Jackson healthy here.

I bustled around the store while they sat. The store was packed with people shopping for holiday foods.  And then a million people shopping for free samples. I glanced over at a meat display at one point and saw about 50 little piglets in bags ready to be taken home and cooked up for Christmas. Now had they been neatly arranged behind glass with a little apple in their mouths I would have been okay (I have been to a Boar’s Head festival with my grandparents before so piglets aren’t that unusual) but the piglets were in plastic bags similar to my piglet from my Honors Biology class in high school.  We are sticking to the ham this year.

As we got close to the end of our shopping Seth decided to go sit on a bench in the adjoining mall while I checked out.  A few minutes later I dragged as full cart and Jackson’s stroller out to find Seth. When I came out to find him he had been feeling so sick that he had to lay down on a bench while people walked gawlking by.  After sitting for another little bit we made our way down to catch a taxi in the parking garage. (At big stores here they have a person with a clipboard that writes down the taxi license plate info for security so that you don’t have to hail one on the street). There was a line of people waiting for a taxi and no taxis. With it being the week of Christmas we expected delays so we weren’t too surprised. We were surprised however that people were actually honoring a line system. As we were savoring the sight of good manners, a girl (barely clad), what appeared to be her sugar daddy and a few friends marched down and saw the line. They quickly rushed to the front of the line where they made a huge scene with the girl that had the clip board. They appeared to see the line just fine but in front of 6 other groups waiting for a taxi they tried to cut. We all huffed and puffed…and mentioned that they needed to go to the end of the line like everyone else. The sugar daddy got so angry with the girl with the clip board and with his girlfriend/employee that he stormed upstairs and left her with the groceries. We had seen them earlier in the store together. He grabbed a new pillow while we were getting pillows for our guest room. I commented to Seth that she should question his love if he buys himself a pillow and she doesn’t get one too! Anyhow, back to the taxi mayhem. After he left her she remained at the front of the line and fussed and argued with everyone that got in a cab before her. When it was our turn to jump in she put up a huge fuss and attempted to take the taxi. After the taxi theft yesterday, I grabbed our new pillows and groceries and started throwing them quickly into the taxi. She again, made a huge scene and argued that it didn’t matter that we had been in line because she was now at the front of the line. During this 30 minute episode we met a lovely Colombian couple who happen to live in Houston where he works for Dow Chemical. We chatted about how we were missing tex-mex food and how we were baffled by the taxi etiquite or lack there of in Colombia. He was watching the whole scene and told us he was going to speak up if she became confrontational with us or tried to cut. Turns out she stole his taxi just as we were pulling away.  Regardless, we were bosom buddies with our new Colombian-Houston friends and exchanged Merry Christmas wishes as we pulled off into the polluted sunset.

You would think the saga was over…but no. As we pulled up to our apt building we pointed the taxi driver into our circle drive in front of our building. Instead he pulled up onto the angled curb. As we rushed to unload our stuff Seth placed Jackson’s car seat into the stroller.  A split second later I glance over to see Jackson beginning a journey down the hill. I shrieked and Seth caught him just as he was leaving arms-length. For those of you from Houston where it is very flat it is likely hard to imagine living on the side of the mountain but trust me it is steep and it is possible for a baby stroller to take off! Just like the movies.  I continued to load groceries onto a cart while Seth asked what we owed for our taxi fare. The taxi driver had left the meter running….another great custom here. Seth negotiated the price and checked the price chart in the taxi. The taxi driver quoted the price and then said, “Oh yes and 1,000 cps more for a “propina de navidad” (Christmas tip). After our crazy adventure I said something like,  “honestly, Senor”. Seth handed him the original amount quoted just has our cart attempted a trip down the hill. Seth grabbed the cart, I grabbed Jackson and we hurried ourselves into the cozy haven of our home.

What a day!  We can’t wait for our car to arrive! It is now sitting in Bogota waiting for us to be allowed to pick it up. And you thought it was hard to wait for the new socks under the Christmas tree.

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My new buddy

Hi everyone,

I am so excited to tell you that I have a new buddy named Eli Grey Noble. He was born late last night after his mommy and daddy waited very patiently all day for him. I am so excited that he is healthy. I hope we get to play sometime soon. He lives in Texas and I live in Colombia so it might be hard but maybe we can plan a play date with the webcam. If you want to see his picture you can click on Justin and Holly’s blog (“Urban Adventure”).

Love, Jackson

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We grieve today with our dear friends Patrick and Christy Lafferty as their precious baby girl Isabella Hope went to be with the Lord yesterday afternoon. Many of you have followed their story through the link on our blog so we wanted to be sure that you got this update. Be praying for Patrick, Christy and their two older children, Seamus and Savannah, as they grieve this enormous loss.  We wish so badly that we could be in Dallas to offer our support and love. Patrick was our single’s pastor in the Sunday School class where Seth and I met and Patrick and Christy walked with us through our dating and engagement. They are dear friends and our hearts are deeply saddened by their loss. Thanks for lifting our friends up in prayer.

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Baby Bella update

A while back we posted about our friends from Dallas, Patrick and Christy Lafferty and their little baby Bella. Check out their blog when you get a chance to see their good news.


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Christmastime in Bogota

 December in Bogota

This is going to be a long blog as Seth promised our Santa story and we have to fill you in on other happenings so…grab your hot cocoa and a few Christmas cookies for sustenance and have a read.

Last Sunday we attended the Ambassador’s Christmas party for the children and families at post. The Ambassador’s residence was beautiful and the festivities were more reminiscent of Christmas in America than we have experienced here so far. Jackson wore his little striped Christmas outfit and had he been old enough he would have gotten to ice Christmas cookies, make Christmas cards and open a gift from Santa. He was too little to open a gift from Santa so just before Santa arrived we asked the coordinator if we could snap one quick picture of Jackson on Santa’s lap before the hoopla began. She said she would ask but never got back to us. Santa arrived and all of the families and children gathered around. One of the elves (a marine) read The Night before Christmas. After the reading, Santa got out his list and began to call children up to receive a gift. Just as he was about to call out the first name Santa startled and reached for a cell phone in his pocket. He said he was sorry but he had received an emergency text from the North Pole. He said he heard there was “a little kiddie in the crowd named Jackson and it is his first Christmas”. He asked for Jackson to come sit on his lap. Jackson was so exhausted (after refusing an afternoon nap). Seth took him up and he sat frozen on Santa’s lap not quite sure what to think about all of the hundreds of people oohing and ahhing over him. He made it through without a tear and without having a blowout diaper on Santa’s lap . It was so special!

Jack with Daddy at Ambassador’s houseSleepy Jack in cozy suitimg_1850.jpg

This past Monday night we had about 15 people over for dinner as a kick off for a bible study that we will be having in our home in the new year. There are about 25 people total that want to be a part of the group. I think we are going to have to split the group before we even get started. There is a great need for community in an international community which was apparent in the attendance and interest from others that could not attend. We’ll see what happens in the new year. We are praying for deep friendships here in Bogota.  We miss our family and friends back home so much and hope that we will find a close community here.
Last night we hosted the church open house at our home. We had lots of people come and go. We have included a few pictures of the party. The church has such a variety of nationalities represented- American, Colombian, South African, Jamacian, Texan- oops…same as American,  British, and so many more. It makes for very interesting gatherings. I am never quite sure what people will show up with in terms of food. Some of the things that we had last night on our “buffet” of finger foods included iced sugar cookies, cheese and crackers, Colombian sugar wafers, some party mix that included potato chips, plantains and pork rinds, Christmas bread and spicy fried puffs-similar to cheetos but so much more exotic. You get the idea!     img_1872.jpg img_1867.jpg    Kima and ShannonChristmas carols!img_1864.jpg

And for the grand finale of this blog…Jackson! I realized the last time we blogged specifically about him was when he was 3 months old which was almost 2 months ago. Some of you get regular updates from us so this might be a repeat for all of you. Jackson is almost 5 months old. He is quite a happy little guy. He brings us so much joy through his great personality. He is sleeping pretty much through the night now and going to bed early so Seth and I get to have time in the evenings together. For those of our friends that are about to have babies….hang in there because eventually you will eat a meal together while your baby is fast asleep! (you’ll get to for the first few weeks but good luck after the sleepy times)  Jackson is experiencing stranger anxiety. Last night at the open house he had a few good screaming spells when unsuspecting admirers’ asked to hold him. He was usually fine for a minute until he realized that he had been kidnapped!  We might need to tone down the nightly kidnapping warnings 🙂 I hope since he is starting this anxiety early it will pass sooner.  He is so social…until passed off to a “stranger”. Really everyone around here is a stranger in some way or another so you can’t blame him. Jackson is holding toys to chew on them, pulling his feet to his mouth and rolling around the room. He loves his exersaucer and loves going outside for walks. We have recently spent lots of time in local parks now that Jack is big enough to try to swing…with lots of help of course. We have included some of our favorite pictures from the last few months!

lots of kissesexersaucer!Jackson on slide at Parque ChicoJackson and Mommy at the parksleeping almost through the night!Just having fun!

We hope you are all having a wonderful Christmas season!

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Off the visa line

In Bogota, we interview on average around 1,300 applicants a day which is why it is called a “visa mill” because we crank out interviews and visas.  And while we are well-staffed, we normally interview from 8 until 3:30.  Which leaves about an hour and a half to get the rest of your work done.  And believe me, like any job, there is always work to be done.

So any time you can get off the “visa line” you certainly don’t mind.  A couple of weeks ago, I was asked whether I wanted to help out with a congressional delegation visit, which I enthusiastically agreed to.  It turns out it was a visit headed by Senator Harry Reid, who is the Senate Majority Leader, and 6 other senators.  My job initially was to make sure a particular room was set up with name tents, water, glasses, interpretation equipment, and interpreter, among other things for a roundtable discussion between the delegation and some labor union leaders.  It was nothing glorious, but it seemed like it would be exciting.

By the day of the visit, I was also meeting the delegation at the airport, and had the opportunity to shake each senator and his wife’s hand.  That was about the extent of my brush with glory, because after that I was mainly behind the scenes.  It turns out though that the interpretation equipment guy showed up about 15 minutes before the scheduled meeting, it was raining, the union guys arrived late, two union leaders didn’t even show, and mercifully the entire delegation was running 30 minutes behind. Thankfully it all turned out well and nobody seemed to know that the room was in chaos only 1 minute before the senators arrived!

This past weekend I was supposed to work another visit, which was led by the Deputy Secretary of State (the one whose swearing in I attended — refer back to a post in February for more info), but it was canceled at the last minute.  That was actually a good thing because we received the last of our household shipment in the middle of the planning for the visit.  And I might have missed Jackson meeting Santa for the first time!

How about that for a teaser…Jackson meeting Santa!  Stay tuned because there’s an ambassador, Marine, and text message involved.

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Since we have been in Colombia we have experienced some interesting elevator practices.  When waiting to go up in an elevator it is not uncommon to see people press the down button. In the US we would push “up” because we need to go up right? Not so here, they think they need to tell the elevator where they are. So strange.

We have been trying to make note of driving practices since our car is getting released to us in 4 weeks. There appears to be a barking order. Trucks and big vehicles first, taxis second, privately owned vehicles (POV) as the government has called our car and then pedestrians. We previously blogged about the honking in DC…it is nothing compared to here. On our Calle (street) in front of our house there are two lanes. It is very common for drivers in the right lane to use both the right and the left lanes. You can imagine that this ALWAYS results in a back up because how can two lanes function when one takes over the other? I’m sure there is some marriage illustration in that one.  Anyhow, because of this irrational practice of using both lanes we enjoy an orchestra of car horns while we eat dinner each night. Last night Seth rushed to the window to see if there was an accident because of the horns and quickly reminded himself that it was just the usual and stopped halfway to the window.

It is not uncommon for drivers to go through red lights here. Especially when there is not much traffic…or rather it probably doesn’t matter how much traffic there is. We had a taxi driver the other day that turned left from the far right lane in front of two other lanes of cars in order to get us home more quickly. Luckily at that moment the other lanes were honoring the red light. I haven’t gotten the courage yet to be a backseat driver in a taxi. I know it will come. Especially when I feel like Jackson is at risk without a seat belt.

The fact that we both blogged today tells you that Jackson is FINALLY taking a nap, after multiple attempts this morning. We will have to update you on him next time he sleeps 🙂

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