August 31, 2010
August 30, 2010
August 29, 2010
As I was carrying him back to our room, I suddenly heard music (that sounds corny, but is true), - it was church music, and my kind of church music on top of that. I stood there, dripping wet and holding Pollo, looking for the source of the extremely loud worship music. A man in the hall, noticed me and said "spanish, spanish, spanish," I shook my head and he said "iglesia". I motion asked if Pollo and I could go in, and got a "Si". Of course I decided the beach ball and Curious George swim trunks were not proper church attire. Quick costume change and we were tucked into the back row (score!) 5 minutes later. Unfortunately, the music finished up right then, and the rest of the service began. Now, I can hum along with anything during the singing, but I suddenly realized I was sitting in a tiny hotel conference room with 40 people, who were having church in Spanish, and I brought my three year old. And then like magic, everyone turned completely around in their seats and stared silently at....me. I don't know if I have yet mentioned, but I don't like to speak in front of more than 2 people at a time. It is my one true phobia (AMP would differ on the exact number of my phobias, but I would insist this is at least the primary one) to have people look at me or be on stage or to speak to people. So then, the guy behind says, "They want you to introduce yourself." What?!?!? I started muddling out something to him, and he said "No, stand, and I will translate." Heaven help.
After that disaster, I was left in peace to piece together what was being said with my improptu translator in the back. The pastor started preaching very dramatically, and I could only pick out a few words here and there. Then my translator started whispering what she was discussing - and to make even more of an "Did you see that crazy American with the baby?" scene- I started crying on the spot.
I have been in church almost every Sunday of my life and I could probably tell you about 10 sermons I have heard over that space in time - I am just not always the best listener or the best at remembering. But a year ago, our pastor preached a sermon that really got AMP and I. We had started Pollo's adoption process, but I was still dealing with some of the "What if's". What if we can't overcome his past, what if his medical issue is too tough, what if it is too hard on our family? Classic Chicken, I was wandering bad down the What if path, when Pastor T preached a sermon on completely trusting God, even with the things you value the most in the world. It was based on a part of the Bible that I knew, but frankly thought was just plain weird, and apparently a lot of other people think so too, because in all my 30 years in the church, I have never heard a sermon on this bible story until he preached it last year. I have kept reminding myself of this sermon, anytime I got chicken throughout the year. And today, I heard the same sermon again, in Spanish. So somewhere out there, God is reminding me to not be scared, and that my little boy is going to be awesome and live an awesome life, and that I will have trust God with the What ifs.
August 28, 2010
August 27, 2010
We drove right pass the the public restroom where there was an incident on the way down. No details, but let's just say, I did might have "broken" something (yes Jo, I have a problem), and then rushed out and jumped in the car. The driver kept saying something to me "spanish, spanish, spanish," so I responded "Si". Always a safe answer, and I needed him to drive away before I was discovered. As we pulled away, AMP said, "You really gave them money, because that is what he is asking you?" Of course, I didn't! So, not only did I "break" and run, but I didn't pay. I slid down in the seat a little as we drove back by today, and fortunately no one in the bus had to stop to use the restroom, or I might have been busted!
One sign we are in Barranquilla - When we dropping our bags in the room after checking in, I hear a shout. Guess who's back? New hotel, new pet lizard. We are definitely back from forth.
*Please admire AMP's blurry picture of Lizard Pet #2, it took some amazing calisthentics to get this close.
August 26, 2010
Chicken Nugget, "Daddy, you hit the right key, you get a sticker!" when AMP kept telling her to stop hitting all the wrong keys on his computer while he was working.
Pollo, "Tank.....eww", his version of thank you.
Pollo, "No compainin!" to Chicken Nugget when she was whining to AMP and I
Chicken Little, as we three listened to the audio tour of Cartagena Cathedral describing Sir Francis Drake's invasion of Cartagena in 1586. "Drake was not a nice man!"
Chicken Little, "So, you are sure that pirates are ex-stink like dinosaurs?" Palpalable fear of Captain Hook that day - especially after we saw the statue.
Chicken Little, "I know how you make magic, you mix pink and purple!"
Chicken Nugget, "Piggies in the potty, Piggies in the potty,....." over and over again, while holding the other McDonald's toy.
Chicken Nugget, "I pooped my pants,...oh I just tooted." all in a desperate attempt to not go to sleep tonight.
Chicken Little, "Mommy, does Hannah Montana love God?" Another desperate attempt to avoid sleep and start a conversation at 9 pm.
And the funniest of all is the chirping of the new bilingual Chicken Nugget, as taught by loving older brother, Pollo:
"Mommy, you need your 'patos?" (shoes)
"Papi (!), I want agua!"
"One, two, three, quatro, cinco!" as her and Pollo jump around
"Daddy, is this comida?" as AMP wheeled in the room service cart
"Un Mas, Un Mas???" (begging for one more turn through the McDonald's playyard)
August 25, 2010
- Transportation to festivities - It is literally down the street we are on, but too far to walk. So, we all pile in a taxi to go to "McDonald's". It is massive, possibly the largest one I have ever seen, so I thought there would be no trouble directing the cabbie to the restaurant. Wrong. Apparently, AMP and I have ridiculous accents, and when we speak English words, that translate directly to Spanish - complete incomprehension ensues. "Hilton" has been a nightmare, until just yesterday when I figured out to say "Heel-ton" and the cabbie got it right away, the very first time. "McDonald's" was just not happening for any of us, as we started to go the wrong way down a one way street. Lightbulb turns on, and I dragged out a Magna Doodle, and AMP wrote, "McDonald's" on it. He shouts, "Oh, McDonalds" clear as day, and away we go.
- Party Setup - Children play happily in the giant playground while I set up the stuff and arrange the food as AMP brings it over. All is well until I, in one fell swoop, knock over all three of the kids drinks on the floor. Chicken Nuggets repeats the trick during the meal, but of course, that was only 1 cup. So of the 4 drinks the poor girl had to clean up around us, it was Mommy - 3, Chicken Nugget -1.
- Menu - McDonald's is an obvious choice for an red-blooded American child, but our red-blooded Colombian child didn't touch the hamburger, the fries, or even the amazing chips- ahoy ice cream thingy that the rest of us devoured. (A petition should be started immediately to add that to the American menu! ) He only drank the apple juice, that somehow turned out to be apple soda.
- Party Hats - AMP and I realized about 10 minutes into lunch, that only he and I were wearing the hats, and were eliciting some quite strange looks, which isn't unusual, but we both decided to ditch the hats immediatly.
- Happy Birthday Balloons - Resounding success. Every child that entered that McDonald's playyard took home a balloon, whether their parents wanted them to or not, and then of course, I started to have some ideas (AMP classified them as paranoid, but I beg to differ) that we needed to make sure that all balloons got out of the upper playyard, because you know that a child might bite a balloon, pop it and then choke, (that is what they told me at the dentists office) and what about latex allergies? (AMP's point on the development of latex allergies only after long exposure and primarily in the medical field, thus probably precluding children under the age of 3, was a point well taken)
- Toy Story Book with both English and Spanish storyline and sound effects- Last minute addition from the "Heelton" bookstore, but best gift ever in Pollo's opinion, and quite possibly the loudest. The cellophane that it was wrapped in was actually only being used as a buffer to block the tremendous sound of speakers on the side. No parent in their right mind would buy it after hearing the unwrapped version.
- Buzz Lightyear figurine - Carefully selected and trucked down here as the present of choice, despite some parental misgivings that it was marked down at Target for a reason. Buzz is now safely tucked in with sleeping Pollo, but unfortunately, Buzz is still shouting intermittently, "I am Buzz Lightyear, I come in peace."
August 24, 2010
Today is a week and, in my crazy spreadsheet in my head that is constantly recalculating, that is just about the earliest we could possibly hear from the court (not realistic, I know. Realistic says at least another week.) If we don't hear anything from the courts this week, then AMP and the girls go home on Saturday night and Pollo and I stay, for the duration. AMP is out right now, buying the tickets that will take them to Bogota on Saturday, to catch their flight home. I realized the other day, that for all of my travels, I have only spent about 7 hours overseas by myself, ever. Now I know, I will not be by myself - Pollo will be with me. However, while he is a strapping young man, and very pleasant company, he isn't taller than my knee, and doesn't speak much English. But, I keep reminding myself, this is going to be just another example of how tough this Chicken really is!
But if anyone could pray - I would really appreciate it.
August 23, 2010
August 21, 2010
He decides that we should all visit Castille de San Felipe, the fort on a hill that was built to protect Cartagena after everybody kept ransacking it and taking all the gold. As he gathered the strollers and the children and the sunscreen, I tentatively asked, "Do you think there are stairs? Like a lot of stairs?" I trailed off as I saw the "Toughen up" look go across his face, and we all piled into a cab. As we arrived, my inner monologue sounded something like this (a little edited for my more sensitive readers):
"Dear god! That is huge"
Quick glance at AMP, who is happily buying tickets and fending off hat vendors - He doesn't look scared. I start frantically applying sunscreen to all three children. Please remember that it feels like 100 degrees in the shade, and there is no shade available....yet.
We charge up the hill,which turns out to be a series of ramps up. I trudge along behind extremely proud of myself for not huffing and puffing. We get about half way up to the top, and are stopped by a man who is starting a small tour in English. We join the group, and he mutters something, about pirates and soldiers, and 2500 meters of tunnels running under and through the fort. That sounds cool....until he charges down one of these tunnels, and everybody follows fearlessly, including AMP with Pollo in one stroller, and of course, Chicken Little is at the front of the group, already disappearing around a turn. So, I collect myself, pop a wheelie to get down the stairs, and calmly push Chicken Nugget into the dark.
Imagine if you will, a small dark tunnel, no higher than your husband's bald head, covered with mold, and more humid than outside, because somewhere, about 525 feet below you, is the sea. There is a nice brick floor, but it is kind of slick, with all the humidity, and after 350 years of use.
So we walk along these dank little tunnels and see where the soldiers slept, and then we go to see how they escaped if the pirates ever got in the fort. I turn the corner with Chicken Nugget's stroller and see the most narrow, vertical tunnel you can imagine going down that doesn't require a rope or a ladder. It is so narrow I can't stretch out my arms without my elbows scraping the sides of the wall (this actually works to my advantage later).
But, AMP has already charged down with Pollo and Chicken Little is already at the bottom, so I took a deep breath and start the slide down.
"At least this is the worst of it"
It wasn't, because at the end of this tunnel, was another tunnel, equally steep, and quite long. And then another, .....and of course, then another. By this point, there is some very sketchy water swirling around our feet - Did I mention I was in wooden soled flip flops - great for traction! Thank god the Steve Madden label on the sole came off half way down, the stickiness was the only thing holding my right shoe on the whole way up.
We stopped only when the guide said "From here on you have to swim." I realized then - it was the escape by sea route that we were exploring with our strollers, and I now found myself 1 meter below sea level. Not sure when that happened, but probably sometime during our Indiana Jones style descent in the belly of the fort. Just as a note, the thin blue tube at our feet was pumping out the sea water so the tunnel we were in wouldn't flood to our necks. Then, to top it all off, 2 shirtless workers with flashlights arrive from further below in the tunnel where they are repairing a leak.
"About face! Where is the elevator up?
But alas, it was back up the 45 degree angle tunnels. I almost decided to take a new job, join the workmen and stay down there, but there was Chicken Nugget, staring up at me so sweetly, so... I started to climb. A very nice, retired gentlemen offered to go behind me to make sure and break my fall - he got a stupendous view as I pushed that stroller up those 4 tunnels. The wheels kept jamming on the sides of the tunnel, and at one point it was so slick, that if I hadn't quickly thrown my elbows out to the side, we would have both taken out that nice, retired gentleman. AMP kept calling back, "How are you doing?" I very politely said nothing, as I couldn't breathe, much less talk. My inner monologue at this point can not be repeated.
I got serious kudos from the entire group when Chicken Nugget, the nice, retired gentleman and I emerged from the dark. But this is my advice. Never take your 3 children and 2 strollers to explore 300+ year old tunnels to the sea in a developing country. Not unless you want to have 50 people ask to take your picture on the way out- "Look at the stupid gringo who took her baby into those creepy tunnels!"
August 20, 2010
Flash forward 4 hectic years later. We find us ourselves celebrating his birthday by:
- Pushing 3 small children around a fort in Cartagena, Colombia (that is a post unto itself - you will just have to wait until tomorrow, but believe me, it is a doozy! Only AMP could talk me into this one)
- Skipping the Inquisition Museum, (too many questions, and one or two nightmares would have arisen from that, even though we were both desperate to see it) to see the very mundane Gold Museum
- Eating mac and cheese and a barbecue sandwich (somethings don't change about that man!) at a cute little deli where they put the Happy Birthday song over the stereo system in the whole restaurant when our brownie with a candle came out (you can still embarrass someone on their birthday - no matter where in the world you are)
- Taking a horse drawn carriage ride through the streets. From this vantage point, AMP and I could see that night life existed, and then we returned to our hotel, read "Buenas Noches, Luna" and tucked our children in bed - lights out by 8:30.
- Sending Birthday Boy back into the streets to take a night picture of a really cool church and to get me a coke, and finding out when he returns that even though he was offered on the street everything ( and I mean everything) that Colombia is infamous for, and in typical AMP fashion, he turned into the Big Chicken and ran back to the coop as fast as his legs could carry him!
August 19, 2010
August 18, 2010
Also today, we moved from the New World to the Old World. We had to check out of the Hilton for 3 nights because there was a big conference coming in. There was a scary moment yesterday, when I realized, we actually didn't have reservations anywhere....for tonight. I was a little nervous just taking the girl at the Hilton's advice, since she kept saying her friend worked there, and I needed to remember there were a lot of stairs. And only a double bed. But the only other room available in the city was close to $400 a night (no wonder it was still available), so we went ahead and booked it, sight unseen. The Chicken came out in me for sure - the Hilton was just so comfortable and easy - very American. However, a scary 10 minute cab ride away from our room at the Hilton resort by the ocean, with it's wifi, and scanner and conferences is a quaint little world that I believe gives Venice a run for its money. We checked into the Casa India Catalina, and it is hard to explain how amazing it is. There is no hot water (well, there is a heating element on top of the shower head that is supposed to heat the water, but actually just gave AMP a nice jolt), and the wifi works in only the two corners of the room, and then sporadically. The stair railings in the pictures should give any parent a heart attack and we think there is a missing stair up to our sleeping loft.
But all of that aside, I don't believe I have ever stayed in a cooler hotel. There are giant wooden doors, with no outside handle-one of the three employees has to let you in. Every frame of every door, every countertop, the benches - all are made of rough hewn wood. There is amazing Spanish art on the walls, and a peacefully pool in the center of the courtyard - perhaps to peaceful for our children to disturb. We are on the top floor (seriously, the China suitcase was stuffed and the poor guy had to drag it all the way up!) We have a small kitchen, a sleeping loft upstairs, and a beautiful balcony. AMP and I came to the quick conclusion that is this room, in this city, is retirement heaven. As I type this, I can hear the horses clopping past our window.
When we arrived today at 1:30, we quickly dropped off the bags and ran out to get lunch for the kids. The simple lunch restaurant on the corner, with no menus, and barely any English, might have been the best meal for the price that AMP or I either one have ever had. There was barbecue brisket (stupendous), barbecue chicken (AMP's top pick), rice and blackeyed peas (this southern girl was in heaven), fried plaintains, and the best chicken soup I have ever had. Poor Pollo stuffed himself - not only was it amazing, but he goes crazy when we get him real Colombian food - not pizza, like the other two want. I have made AMP vow - no more pizza for a week - and that is crazy talk coming from me! So finally, after two weeks in Colombia, we have found the best food, for next to nothing. We are both in heaven! Out with the New - in the with the Old! Except we are going to keep both the Old and New Kids.
August 17, 2010
10 hours later, we are sitting here quietly in the room while the kids sleep, and I of course request that he make his nightly trip up to the lounge to smuggle us some Coke Zero for our Mad Men party that is about to start. A few minutes later, I opened the door to AMP and this:
Now I don't have to be insanely jealous of any little nine year old girls tomorrow at the pool.
Pollo Update: Tonight, he feel asleep with Sissy. No rocking, no crying, no nothing. Just climbed in bed with Sissy and then after comforter negotiations ended, they fell asleep. I am beyond stunned - I was prepping myself for another year of bedtime wars and night- night strategic planning like we had with Chicken Little. I don't want to jinx us, but this could be something!
August 16, 2010
August 15, 2010
- Upgrading from slimy Ball Pit to pint-sized Ball Pool. Same balls, totally different experience - at least for AMP and I it was. The wee ones might not have noticed the difference at all.
- Eating breakfast in the Executive Class Lounge - so fancy and even free! Until one of your flip-flops breaks and you must limp out of the lounge in a very non-fancy, barefoot way.
- Meeting a Very Important Person who worked (high-up) for both Tele Mundo and a former Mayor of New York City and discussing the fabulousness of NYC's Upper West Side with her for half and hour, then excusing yourself to take your children to the bathroom, only to stare in the mirror and see mascara dripping and smeared all around your eyes, and your hair, literally standing on end - seriously, how does one "swim pretty"?
- Relaxing in the same Executive Lounge with your oldest child, both drinking sodas (bad mommy), eating cookies (bad mommy!) and playing on the Ipad and Ipod respectively - so fancy again! AMP and two little ones awake from nap and come up to join you for more cookies (double bad mommy!!) - fancyness all around!Until, on your way out, one of the hotel staff hands you the VIP's card from above, and they say "she asked me to give this to you." Neither the staff person nor the VIP knew either your name, or even your room number - and you are staying in a 10-story resort. Your family definitely doesn't stand out at all!
August 13, 2010
So Part One of our trip is done. We arrived in Barranquilla on the afternoon of the 3rd, and tomorrow afternoon we leave. We have spent the past 10 days in the Hotel Majestic, and it has worked for us. Here are a couple pictures of the room (we never managed to catch a pic of the lizard - he's in here - somewhere).
This is the dining area/kids bedroom - though it only looked like this about 2 minutes of everyday. From 3:04 to 3:06, immediately following the cleaning ladies departure, and then it would dissolve quickly - notice that Chicken Little IS in this picture, at least her feet are.
They have a really nice pool area downstairss, in a center courtyard, with an alligator fountain. Pretty much every morning was spent with me ferrying Pollo back and forth between the beach ball, the ladder so he could get out and jump like Sissy, and to the bano. Chicken Little now knows how to do a perfect cannonball, a great back flip in the water, and how to flirt with Italian young men in the pool (actually not kidding on this one). Chicken Nugget, on the other hand is a little seahorse - she treads water through the pool perfectly upright and screaming bloody murder if Mommy comes near her to check and see if she is drowning or possibly assist her in anyway. Here is Chicken Nugget posing on the alligator - I have really great pics of the three of them on the alligator that I am dying to post, but must wait.
Anyway, adequate space for the 5 us. Pretty much every dinner lately has consisted of cereal around this table, as the kitchen doesn't open until 7pm, and Pollo has some medicine he has to take with food at 6pm. I vow to never again touch Frosted Flakes, and Corn Flakes might be next on the list. The best thing about meals is that now Pollo is obsessed with praying before the meal - he wants to say "ah-men". We usually have to stop the meal several times to re-bless the food - which might not be a bad idea after all.
So, we spent the last 10 days here meeting Pollo, and spending the first week getting to know him. This last Tuesday we had an official meeting by the pool with the social worker, the child pscychologist, his nutrionist, our translator, and our lawyer, and of course all three loco ninos. This rather formal meeting, with snack and drinks even, was to make sure that all was going well in Pollo's transition, and that we were all happy together. I didn't have to say much - the three kids pretty much made our case for us, as they terrorized the entire pool area together. Now, our case has been submitted to the court here in Barranquilla - and we wait. We are choosing to wait in nearby Cartagena, at the Hilton resort on the end of the private peninsula in the Carribbean, with three pools, and a playground. I am suffering so much on this maternity leave - honestly!
Next time from paradise!
PS. - I updated some of the posts from the trip with pictures that I finally just downloaded. I realize now, that I am not taking near the pictures I took with the first adoption - I don't know if it is the setting, or the three crazy chicks running around and over me!
August 12, 2010
8pm arrives. They entertained themselves for 4 hours...all by themselves. Three new siblings, playing hysterically together -we both kept to the edges of the room, silently motioning to each other, but careful not to interrupt. There was one casualty along the way - one Happy Meal toy had it's own "issues" with foreign water!
August 11, 2010
I stretch in bed at 6:15 am as AMP takes Pollo to the bathroom, and Chicken Nuggets snores away. Chicken Little comes in, looking for AMP:
Me: "Good Morning Sunshine!" Extra positive, I remind myself, with a smile ear to ear.
CL: "Where's Daddy?"
Me: "Did the tooth fairy make it last night?"
CL: Big, happy smile breaks across her face as she runs to check. She returns, holding the American dollar, with a confused, but very happy expression. "Mommy, the tooth fairy came!" Pause, and then,
CL: "Why did the tooth fairy bring me America money, Mommy?"
Me: So excited for our vastly improved interaction thus far, I respond, "Because I found an extra dollar in my wallet!"
Very long pause as we both ponder the implications of this statement.
CL: "You gave a dollar to the tooth fairy? You saw the tooth fairy!?!"
So there I am. Do I tell my beloved daughter, less than one week into the trauma of a new sibling, in a foreign country and only two lost teeth in, that Mommy is indeed the Colombian and the American tooth fairy? or do I just start describe some Spanish Tinker Bell-like creature and hope for the best? I freeze and utter the first words that come to me.
Me: "Wait for Daddy."
So we wait and I pantomine frantically over Chicken Little's head as she asks AMP,
CL: "Daddy, why did Mommy give me an American dollar?"
After a brief side bar, AMP pulls this one out.
AMP: "The tooth fairy got a flight delay, and asked Mommy to do it for her." What???
CL: "I don't want Mommy's dollar, I want real Colombian tooth fairy money!"
AMP then, in his infinite wisdom suggests that we wait yet again for the Colombian tooth fairy tonight, and Chicken Little eagerly agrees and hands me back my dollar- that ironically enough has an American flag on it of all things! I then shoo them both of out of the bathroom, muttering something about having to use the toilet and start frantically digging through, you guessed it, the trash can for the tiny, little tooth that I buried under a diaper and three paper towels last night (I still don't feel clean, over twelve hours later). I then discretely tuck it back into the ziploc bag, utterly grossed out, but before she even went down the path of "Where is the tooth?" Who's thinking preemptively?
Fast Forward to now. Small, disgusting tooth in its nice baggy is removed from under Chicken Little's pillow, and is replaced by Mommy with not a 1000 peso bill, but a 2000 peso bill. The Colombian tooth fairy is praying very fervently that all goes well in the morning, and asks that you do the same!
August 10, 2010
August 8, 2010
Day 4.5 with "Mamma", and "Papi" (Chicken Nugget is now calling AMP Papi) and life is so good. Here is a non-comprehensive list of the different ways my little Pollo rocks!
- Bear Hugger - Mamma ventured out of the hotel room twice today (still on the mend from the Waka Waka, honestly feel ridiculous for saying that). One time Chicken Nugget went with me, and AMP stayed behind with the two big kids. I was gone for a total of two minutes, since Chicken Nugget and I are pretty slow together. When they opened the door for us, I was attacked at the knees with a hug by one adorable little boy, saying "Mamma!"
- Mighty Hunter - In the pool, he suddenly shouted "Papi, mira!" and when AMP looked down, a tiny little hand was killing the bug crawling on Papi's hand!
- Abject Tickler - Chicken Nugget earned herself a timeout today, and after I had sat her in the chair for timeout, Pollo came over and started tickling her endlessly. We tickled her neck and he kept tickling her feet - there were even two or three zerberts (blowing on the belly). Needless to say, that was an extremely effective timeout. Way to go Big Brother!
- Sweetheart - I have been singing some songs to him, just a couple songs that I used to sing to Chicken Little when she first came home, like "Mamma loves Chicken Little, Daddy loves Chicken Little...." and so on through the family. As I was singing it last night and tonight, he was singing along with me in parts!
- Chatterbox - In Spanish for sure, and he can now say "Ok", "our last name", "Sorry", "Apple Juice", "Good Job", and most importantly "Poo Poo"!
- Budding Intellectual - Last night at dinner, Chicken Little started reciting 5 little monkeys, which is currently the favorite story among the girls. Pollo watched the 4 of us reciting it for a minute, then jumped off his chair and ran into the bedroom - he returned....with the 5 little monkeys book and a big smile!
- Family Man - We sent down a shutterfly book a few months ago, with pages about each member of the family, our house and extended family, so that he could become familiar with us a little bit - we had done the same thing for Chicken Little. When I was making the book, I had gotten almost to the end, and had two more pages to fill. I wasn't sure what to do with these pages, so I did a ton of scattered pictures of all of us across the pages. I never saw the book done - we just sent it directly here through the agency. Apparently, the book was a huge hit. It goes with him everywhere around the hotel room throughout the day, and he wants to look at it every hour or so, particularly around bedtime. Every single time he flips through it, he is looking for the two pages at the end. When he get there, he points to the pictures of himself and smiles, and then gently touches all the faces in the pictures. Once, Chicken Nugget tried to take the book, and I feared for everyone - that is Pollo's special item, and he falls asleep with it every night!
August 7, 2010
It all started yesterday in the ball pit...
Chicken was feeling a little sick before we went to the mini-amusement park here in Barnaquilla, Colombia; but when coupled with the stress and semi-legitimate paranoia of having to wade through a ball pit in sweltering heat to get our son who needed to go to the bathroom, her symptoms were getting worse (BTW, if we hadn't hauled him out in time, I'm certain that the employees would have just kept admitting kids as I drug my dripping child from the pit, and I'm also sure that he would not have been the first kid to have peed in there).
This morning, she woke up in a near-vegetative state. Sore throat, pounding headache, the works. The hotel arranged for a doctor to visit in the room and our adoption agency's translators came by to assist. The doctor quickly announced that it was a virus that is common in this region called "Waka Waka"--I kid you not, you can't make this stuff up. Our translator agreed and said "Of course, you know 'Waka Waka de Shakira.'"
Now I am a well-known NPR aficionado (read: nerd), so I don't know much about popular culture unless it is covered by my friends on All Things Considered (they just did a piece on the BeeGees); but I did watch the World Cup while in Germany (lots of stories about drunk Germans), so I saw the Waka Waka video. FIFA used it as a theme song. There were "Save the World"-type videos with African kids and everything.
Which brings the story full circle...Shakira is from Barranquilla, Colombia. Everyone here is enamored with her. So, did she name the song/dance after the local flu virus? Somehow, it doesn't make me feel better to know that my wife is sick with the Waka Waka de Shakira; that just sounds dirty.
Update: Chicken responded well to the drugs the doctor prescribed, which made me want to title this post "Colombian Drugs are Great!" But even in an infirmed state, Ultimate Chicken still wields the veto power.
August 6, 2010
at this point in this summer, when we are in our sixth foreign country
between the two of us, that we would fine. That is not to sound conceited,
and this is not to complain. But today we got our butts kicked by Foreign
Country. It isn't Colombia, which is extremely more developed than Ethiopia
was. It is just Foreign.
We have been dealing with a money issue for several days-apparently here you must have only a four digit PIN for the ATM. Of course we have "extremely strong", much longer pins, so the ATM was out as a means of getting cash. Our translator sweetly took us took Bancolombia, and an hour later, we had cash. And two hours later Bank of America had declared our card stolen and turned it off - and we could only turn it back on a Bank of America branch. The nice lady on the phone couldn't seem to understand why we couldn't get to one in the next few days. Just as a note, we had called and let them know we were leaving the country for Colombia. So access to money, which I have never had trouble with outside the US (not even when my wallet was stolen in China) has been extremely complicated. We have also had issues with food - and not how the food tastes, or what is available, because the food is awesome (barbecue meat and rice - hello perfect diet!) and is plentifully available. It is not, however, very cheap. We have been alternating between the hotel food, and the mall food court, and for example, our meal at McDonalds two days ago was $50 US! A little confusing.
With that background, we get to today. AMP went to the supermarket, and the food court to get lunch while I watched the kiddos. The youngest two were sleeping peacefully, and Chicken Little and I were doing hair (her hair of course) and that process can be slightly nervewracking for both of us. Then her favorite DVD, Peter Pan, got stuck and apparently is quite scratched. I start feeling a strange tickling in the back of my throat, and then a dull headache. hmmm. Then AMP appears banging on the door, with several bags of food and supplies and...new tennis shoes on? His new flip flops that we bought last weekend at Marshall's (not a good advertisement for my company's quality) had broken mid-walk to the mall. There was laughing in the streets apparently at the Gringo with Broken Shoe. Unfortunately in the mall, there were no size 11 shoes. So AMP walked home with the diapers, yogurt and our $52 US lunch (3 hotdogs, 2 hamburgers, and french fries) with his feet crammed into untied, brand new size 9.5 Puma sneakers. He is obviously a happy camper at this point. Anyone one at home a size 9.5? They are all yours when we get home! Just FYI, he couldn't fit into them with socks on, so wear at your own risk!
So there we are, both in fabulous moods, when the wonderful guide and the translator's granddaughter arrive to take us to the park. One cab with two of my children sitting on my lap later, we arrive at an amusement park/recreation park, where two people are making out intensely, (thank god Kidist didn't notice). The kids loved the amusement park (Pollo did look slightly scared a few times), but AMP and I spent the afternoon riding minature trains and carousels, and then came the ball pit. I have issues with ball pits in America. I know it's odd, but they seem dirty and the last time we were in one, there was a GIGANTIC spider in it, and the time before that, Chicken Little peed in it (Sorry to anyone who has been to Fantasyland) . So here I am, in the sun, in Colombia, in a GIGANTIC ball pit, and I am wondering, what else is in this rather slimy ball pit besides my children. Then I see a mosquito bite on Pollo's face and another little devil headed for Chicken Nugget and visions of Yellow fever and malaria begin to dance in brain. Remember please, that I may have a fever, and it is possibly 110 degrees in the shade. We decide to end our time at the amusement park and get some pizza before heading home.
Pizza is fine and Chicken Little proceeds to entertain us with some dancing to 70's music videos that they were playing in the pizza parlor (there were no lights in this restaurant, and Chicken Little was trying to catch the bugs crawling on the window in an empty water bottle. We all pile back in a cab after one cab rejects us - there are four adults and three children for one cab, so I could maybe understand why. We arrive at the hotel and head upstairs to calm down and cool down. I am headed to the mini-bar for water, when fabulous little Pollo says, "Mamma mira!" He is pointing at our pet lizard, which we haven't seen since our first moments in the room, three days ago, but who is still apparently with us. Joy.
So we are being complainers today, but it would be much easier to do this in your own home. Two incidents, however, compensated for the whole day. In the pool this morning, where we all had a truly fabulous time, Pollo jumped off the side into the water and when I went to give him a high five, he also puckered up and wanted to give me a kiss! Momma melted. Second, at one other point in the pool, while AMP was holding him and playing with him - Pollo stopped, stared at AMP and said "mi Papi." Papi melted. We have the three best kids, no matter where we are!
didn't really notice, until the other day. It was our first day in
Barranquilla, and our guide and our translator took us up to lunch at a
nearby shopping center. We all walked up and checked out the supermarket,
and then tried out some authentic Colombian mall food. It had rained while
we were in the mall and had flooded the streets, so we decided to take a
taxi back to the hotel. I should say that the taxis here are tiny, like a
Honda Fit. Anyway, the translator, the guide, the two girls (stacked up on
my lap) and I all piled in the back. AMP went around and climbed in the
front seat. The taxi driver took off and drove about 5 feet before he hit a
speed bump and bottomed out. Grind, grind, grind and lots of reversing back
and forth got us nowhere-we were completely stuck. The cab driver then
turns, grumbles something in Spanish, and motions for AMP to get out of the
car. A little bewildered AMP climbs back out-and voila, the cab is no
longer stuck!! The 5 of us in the back and the cab driver collapse in
laughter and AMP gets back in car, muttering something about a "gringo
maximo" or to translate-"Fat American"!
August 5, 2010
and need to go to sleep, so I can wake up with the chicks at 6am tomorrow.
I'll try to do it tomorrow. Today went really well-he is starting to settle
in. He loved the pool this morning-and kept trying jump in like Big Sissy,
who was Big Sissy of Impressive and Scary Diving and Flipping Abilities.
Chicken Nugget pretty much followed Pollo around all day chirping "Hi
Pollo", trying to hug him and trying to blow on his belly. Pollo is
figuring out his place in this crazy family so well. He gets sad
periodically, but is not inconsolable, and will laugh and giggle along with
the girls most of the time. He loves to play with cars and balls-typical
boy and this causes some crazy racing back and forth in the suite. Still
potty trained-Am I the luckiest person in the world? He called me Mommy
several times today and said his second English word this afternoon -
Monkey!!!-while looking at a book my friend gave us last week. He slept
with us last night, but I rocked him to sleep tonight, and right now we
have him laying down with Chicken Little, so let's see if that flies. He
slept last night with the firetruck we gave him. Sorry, we can't post
pictures of him yet, but here are the girls the night before we got him,
eating dinner at the hotel by the pool.
August 4, 2010
He is really smart, seems to understand and even listen to what we are saying and our instructions. He is having an awesome time playing with the "Ninas", and is truly adorable in every way! He was laughing with us with in the first half hour. He called AMP "Papi" and wants me to pick him up and hold him when he is sad. When he and AMP were playing, AMP at one point stood up to go get the ball that had rolled across the room. Pollo started yelling at him in Spanish, and all the women in the room started smiling and told AMP, "he is saying Don't go!" The three kiddos are having a great time playing together. He doesn't speak any English at all, but pointing and wild gesturing seem to do the trick for the most part. He is a, dare I say it and jinx myself royally, potty trained! He is all boy - He loves to play with the firetruck we brought him, and loves to throw the ball around. He has a little accordion that his foster mother said he loved to play with, and boy, he loves that thing!
He does miss his foster mother a lot, and he asked for several times, but that is to be expected. He is just amazing, and I love him so much already! My girls were also amazing, Chicken Little was just giving and understanding with him and with the whole unruly situation today - She turned on her charm and had the whole ICBF office in stitches. Chicken Nugget went without a nap all day, and was still amazingly patient and sweet. I love my three children, and I really love that they are now all together, here in the crazy coop!
Note: We have been advised to not post pictures until the adoption is finalized by a Colombian court. Unfortunately, this will probably take three weeks. For those of you who haven't seen pictures, you will just have to trust me, he is a very handsome little boy.
August 3, 2010
Labor Pain #8: Customs and Baggage claim at 10:30 at night in a foreign country with the same two small children from - need I say more?
Epiderural Wearing off!
Labor Pain #9: Getting the news that our appointment to get/meet/slobber, squeeze, kiss and tear all over Pollo was put off until Wednesday afternoon. That one hurt.
Labor Pain #10: That sinking feeling that I had forgotten about, the one were you realize you are not in control of the situation, and no matter what, right now you have to trust someone else's best interest to take care of you and your family. I felt it in Ethiopia when I realized that I had not been in control of Chicken Little's story up until that Friday morning when I met her. I had to trust that her family had made good decisions for her up until that point, and that the agency was taking care of the process. I felt it with Chicken Nugget, when I realized I had no idea how to give birth/take care of a tiny baby, and that I needed to trust that the doctors and nurses would make the right choices for our care. I felt it again today when they moved the appointment, saying we needed a day to settle in the country with the girls before we get him. I will have to remind myself that I just might feel that feeling again in the next 6 weeks and that it is okay.
So, with less than 8 hours of sleep in 2 nights, we are heading back to that airport in the morning to head out to Barranquilla.
And just on a "pat my own back" note: I packed for 6 weeks in a .......carryon bag. Additionally, Chicken Nugget is also packed in that bag! Who's a rockstar? And nobody better judge my pictures from this trip, where I am in the same pair of capri pants in every single picture.
August 2, 2010
Labor Pain #2: Being told by one guy at hotel reservations that the hotel we wanted was absolutely not available, after spending an hour on the phone to get to him. 45 minutes later by another agent that it absolutely was available??
Labor Pain #3: Staying up until 3 am packing,cleaning and running around in a general chicken-like state
Labor Pain #4 Wake up at 6am to load up 4 suitcases, 4 carryon's, and two strollers in the minvan, before heading back to DD to pick up debit card
Labor Pain #5: that darn HOV lane starts moving like lightening the minute I get irrevocably out of it.
Labor Pain #6: Realizing that the insanity of children traveling with us now, is about to get exponentially worse :)
At the airport in Houston and off! Next time from Colombia!! Pollo, here we come!