Monday, March 30, 2009

Cultural Tidbits from the Mercado

I said I was going to post more pics of Penni and Kevin's trip but . . . I'm just going to direct you to her blog instead. Now onto an interesting topic: buying your produce and meat, fresh!!

Spanish cities all over the country have fresh food markest. Some are indoors, some are open air markets. Mine is located just a few blocks away from our apartment so 1 day each week, I grab my shopping cart (a cloth thing on wheels that I pull behind me) and head up the street. I go to the same vendors each week so it's fun to build a relationship with each person over the course of time. Markets like these are in decline however as Spain has welcomed in the "Sams Club" era, as I call it. Supermarket chains have become very popular and thus the men who work in these fresh food markets say that their day is coming soon. The guy from whom I buy ham and cheese thinks that within the next 10 years, markets like the one I go to will be extinct. So sad! But for now, let me tell you about one of my favorite days of the week!

This is where I buy all of my veggies and fruit. Let me tell you, the strawberries and clementines I found this year have been AMAZING. At this booth, I tell the man how much I want of each thing. Usually I tell him how many kilos I need, but sometimes I just tell him numbers. (Like, "Give me 4 carrots, please.) The produce here is much more fresh than at the super market, and it's cheaper as well. Oh and 1 kilo=2.2 pounds. For a funny story on doing that conversion wrong, click here.

This guy cracks me up. He has been especially helpful with teaching me Spanish as he's the one who taught me that I should say "Give me ______" instead of "I would like________." At first it felt so demanding and rude, but it's what they say so I guess it's not! This is where I buy my cheddar cheese and ham. Who knew cheddar cheese was such an American thing! I couldn't find it for a long time in the super market, and when I did, it was VERY expensive. Here I can get it in bulk, at a cheaper price. It's still much more expensive than in the states, but I've become good at rationing my precious cheddar. Renae also LOVES the ham from this guy. Loves it.

And this is my favorite place. He's my "chicken" guy. He sells all chicken products, as well as skinned rabbits. Gross. And actually, I can get turkey from him when I need it (like on Thanksgiving.) Every Tuesday he gives a dozen eggs for each kilo of chicken breasts that you buy. I buy a kilo each week and it will last us the whole week. It's interesting to note that he slices about 3 full size chicken breasts up VERY VERY thin. I think because they are so thin, we actually eat less chickcn per meal then if we were in the states buying a frozen bag of chicken breasts from Sams. I love going to the market. I get to talk with 3 really nice guys who have greatly helped me with my Spanish. I made sure I gave them all a bunch of Christmas cookies at Christmas time. There is no better way to make friends then through food.

Ok, a few pics from Penni and Kevin's trip . . .

One tired little girl!

So sweet.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Visit with the Masson Fam . . .

These next few posts are long overdue, but with our computer problems and having family here, posting just wasn't getting done. Sorry. Jesse's brother and sister-in-law flew in the same day as Jesse's Mom and her husband. It was a great reunion. His Mom hadn't seen Trey and Kari since August of 2007! Trey and Kari are standards in Renae's life however and she went right to her favorite person.

"What's not to like? I get to be really tall when Uncle Trey's around!"

"Oh-and he feeds me snacks if I sit with him at the table."

"Don't worry, I make sure he gets fed too."

After the weekend, the French Masson's headed back home and we continued our visit the rest of the fam (minus Britt and the Boise crew.)

Our first stop was to the mountains! Renae has become quite the avid climber . . .

. . . and Jesse, a knife wielder. Seriously, he carved away on some cool walking sticks.

Renae led the way up the rocky course. She needed help a few times . . .

"Grandma, I'll help you go the right way."

I didn't get the memo about the cheese face pose.

Daddy and Daughter. So cute.

Grandma and Grandbaby. So precious.

We found a fresh stream and Penni wanted a drink. Kevin went in for it.

I didn't try a taste, but they all said it was nice and cold. I believe them.

Later that week we too full advantage of the free baby-sitters and went out on a date. Jesse's friend Fede took us to a place where we could take an hour long Salsa class. It was so much fun.

Check our our form! We were almost naturals . . . .

Fede is perhaps our favorite person in the entire country of Spain. He rocks.

Seriously. We love this guy.
I'll be back with more pics from the tip. I think I'm using stolen pics from Penni's camera. I didn't actually take that many because when you are around someone like Penni, there just isn't a need to use your own camera. She takes enough for 4 people. :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I'm Cheating Again . . .

I'm going to direct you to my sister-in-law's website for pictures of our weekend with Jesse's mom and step-dad, and brother and sister-in-law. I'll post pics of the rest of our week later. For now we are busy enjoying family, the nice weather, games and movies. See ya!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Let the Fun Begin . . .

My Grandma and Grandpa are here!!!!

They arrived this afternoon and I took Mommy and Daddy with me to the airport to welcome them.

They needed help walking after all that jet-lag.

My Unlce Trey and Aunt Kari are here too. I love having all these people around!! Now let me tell you about my past week . . .

On Saturday I was really sick. I just wanted to lay around all day. So I did.

Once I started feeling better I had fun with Mommy. She tried to copy my cheese face.

After breakfast Tuesday morning I took my leftover toast and stored in here for safe keeping.

I thought it was a good spot.
My Mom or Aunt Kari will be posting about the rest of our time together. Tomorrow we are going to enjoy the BIG park in our city. I'm loving this weather!!!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Soul Pancake

A friend just sent us this very interesting website. It was started by Rainn Wilson from "The Office." I especially found the post "Why is talking about God so awkward?" very insightful.

Check it out.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Cultural Tidbits from a Latin Wedding

Last night I attended my first non-American wedding. We received the invitation a few weeks ago from the bride who works at our local grocery store, and attends the same church as us. The bride's four names were listed as being the woman who would marry her fiance, who only had 3 names listed. Whew.

I called a family we know to see if they could baby-sit Renae as I didn't know what kind of wedding this would be. Would it be ultra formal like Spanish weddings? Or would it be like a middle class American wedding where kids are invited? I decided going with just Jesse sounded like the best idea.

Saturday morning rolled around and Renae woke up with a fever. Darn it. That meant one of us would be going to the wedding. Alone. We had already missed another Latin wedding at the same church and were grilled with questions as to why we didn't come. Oops. Jesse stayed home with our sick little girl while I dressed up, and headed out to the wedding. We had no idea what was expected for a gift (there are no Target's here to register at) so Jesse sent me with money, and a blank card to write in.

I arrived about 10 minutes late which I assumed would be ok since the bride is from Ecuador, and the groom is from Colombia. I guess since the pastor running the show is Spanish, the wedding started at 6:00 p.m punto. Oops again.

I was pleased to find that I'd dressed appropriately. Some people had more formal attire than one would wear to an American wedding, but most were in nice dresses if they were women, or collared shirts and ties or suits for men. The bride and groom sat at the front on a decorative bench for most of the time. I was sitting near the back so I was able to observe the many poeple who came in late after me. I guess the Latin Americans who came late were assuming the wedding would start late too. So I was half right, right?

The ceremony lasted longer than I had expected. The pastor talked for a LONG time. During this time I tried to focus on understanding what he was saying, but I was slightly distracted by the Spanish man who came in mid-way to drop off some clothes for the churches clothing distribution. He walked to the middle aisle to see what was going on. When he discovered a wedding taking place, he went to tell his wife who tried to get him to leave. The man felt the need to talk to someone about his "sizable annonymous donation" (Return to Me anyone?) so he chose me. Talking with the older Spanish generation is usually difficult, but when another man is speaking in Spanish in a microphone at the same time it gets even trickier. I realized he just wanted to tell me that he was leaving a bunch of stuff for their clothing distribution, he was leaving a LOT, and he had talked with a woman named Edith, and when would this wedding be over? Meanwhile, his wife was in the background trying to get him to stop talking! I think I communicated to him that I would make sure the donation made it into the right hands. (Who knew I'd sat in the wedding coordinators seat?)

Perhaps the funniest part of the wedding was towards the end, during the vows. You know how Asians have the sterotype of being camera crazy? I think we need to reassign that sterotype to Latin Americans. Oh. My. Word. At one point I think I counted 10-12 different people standing up all over the room (some on stage, some right next to the pair) taking thousands of pictures. One guy even had his video camera AND his camera going at the same time. And he was seated in the very back. Darn it-why didn't I take MY camera? I could have at least taken a picture of the camera crazies.

(P.S. The vows were fun to hear as the bride had to say, "I, Maria-Jose Guitierez Lopez Santiago de la Montaña . . . ." I made that name up. You get the point.)

The reception took place in the basement of the church. People had brought different appetizer type things and everyone just kind of jumped in the circular buffet with plastic plates to get what they wanted. Soon after, the dance begun. This is when it got fun. First of all, at times it felt like Junior High dances all over again. I was dateless so I sat on a chair by the wall and hoped no one would come ask me to dance out of pity. Second, did I mention that the room was full of Latin Americans?? There were Columbians, Peruvians, Dominicans, Brazilians, Ecuadorians and a few Spaniards too. It was a wee bit intimidating to even try and dance merengue when everyone in the room was born shaking their hips in perfect rhythm. Yes, there was a congo line. Somehow it seemed cooler since everyone was not a white American trying to dance like a Latino.

I was eventually asked to dance by a kind middle age man from Ecuador. Usually when you dance with your uncles at weddings you feel cooler because of course you can dance better than them. But, like I said. I was the white girl surrounded by a bunch of Latinos. They ALL danced better than me. Even the kids.

It was a fun night and I'm glad I went even though I felt slightly out of place most of the night. And by the way, I discovered that the way they do gifts is a plate is passed around and people just put money in it. I'm so glad I didn't arrive with a toaster!

Friday, March 6, 2009

A Personality Inventory . . .

For those of you familiar with the Myers-Briggs personality assessments, I am an ENFP. Which means I'm an Extraverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiving kind of girl. I'm not always proud of being an ENFP because some other ENFP's drive me crazy. (Come on people, get your feet on solid ground once and awhile!) But in general, it's a good descriptor of my personatlity type. Jesse on the other hand is an ESTJ. This means he's an Extraverted Sensing Thinking Judging kind of guy. We used to think it was not good that we were so different but 4 1/2 years of marriage has shown us that being so different is pretty darn good. We are able to balance each other out and help each other in our weaknesses. (Which might explain why other ENFP's sometimes annoy me. . .)

Now that we have a third human being in our little family circle, we have yet another personality type to figure out. I've been thinking about Renae's personatlity a lot lately. Recently, whenever we are walking down the street, in a store, at the park, or on the bus or metro, Renae waves to everyone. And I mean everyone. If someone looks her way, she will wave at them until they wave back. And then, she usually keeps waving. As we walk away from the other waver, Renae usually has to stop 3 or 4 more times to wave again. I don't know if she's just trying to make sure that the person saw her wave or not. Sometimes, if a person is near Renae, but can't see her, she will wave in hopes that the person will eventually see her moving hand and respond.

So this has led to me to believe that she is an extrovert. Renae loves to get out of the house. She will usually cry when we have to leave the park because she has lots of fun being around all the other kids. When we are around other families, Renae is quick to leave our sides and go play with the kids, regardless of wether she knows them or not. Because Renae is now 1.5 years old, her personality is coming out more. Even when she was a baby, I thought she might be an extrovert because she would go to just about anybody. So I've figured out the first letter of her Myers-Briggs type. Let's figure out the rest:

Sensor or iNtuitive? (How does she take in information?)

I'm going to say she is a Sensor. Given the fact that she is only 18 months old, it's all about the here and now, and what she can see/smell/taste/touch/feel. Here is how one website describes Sensors:

Sensors take in information through their five senses - what they see, hear, touch, taste, or smell. Intuitives take in information through a "sixth sense" - not on what is, but what could be. Sensors prefer facts to support their decisions and live in the "here and now." Intuitives take in information by seeing the big picture, focusing on the relationships and connections between facts. They are especially attuned to seeing new possibilities. Sensors tend to think in a linear fashion, one thought following the next, and Intuitives frequently engage in leaps of thinking. Sensors are more down-to-earth and Intuitives are imaginative and creative. Sensors often demonstrate their creativity by finding a new application for something that has already been invented. This is because a Sensor tends to rely on his own or someone he trusts experience.

Thinker or Feeler? (How does she make descisions?)

Another website asks various questions to help one decide if they come to conslusions based on logic or feelings. This is the one that helped me decide if Renae is a thinker or feeler:

Do I make decisions more objectively, weighing the pros and cons, or based on how I feel about the issue, and how I and others will be affected by it?

As Renae's Mom, I'm going to say that Renae is not the greatest yet at weighing the pros and cons. For example, when Renae doesn't want to eat a certain piece of food on her plate, we tell her that she must try one bite. If she doesn't obey, she is punished. Each time we have this issue come up, Renae makes the desicision one way or another. Usually, she's pretty concerned with how she feels: "I do NOT feel like eating those gross carrots!" So I would say it usually takes a few times before she realizes that the pros of eating the carrots outweigh the cons. But she initially decides based on her feelings.

Judger or Perceiver? (How does Renae live her outer life?)

Here are the two desciptors:

Judgers are very organized. They like to "plan their work and work their plan." A Judger likely has a day planner or if she doesn't have one, she carries one around in her head. Work is carried out in an orderly fashion. Even holidays need to follow a plan. There is a place for everything and everything should be in its place. Judgers like things to be in order. The Judging housekeeper likes everything put away. Don't just drop your coat at the door; pick it up and put it in the closet.

(It's so funny to picture a toddler with a day planner!)

Perceivers like to go with the flow. If they have a "to do" list, it will likely be just a scrap of paper. They are always looking for new information. They put off making decisions because there might just be that last little bit of information that would help them make a better decision.

(Yeah, like do I come when Mom called me, or do I wait for a better choice?)Perceivers follow an "event" schedule. They are waiting for everything to come together, and then at the right moment, they are energized to make their move. Unfortunately, sometimes things never come together and they lack the energy to achieve what was expected of them. Perceivers tend to be much messier, and woe betide you if you try to straighten up their mess. Even if it looks chaotic, they know exactly where everything is.

Hmmm . . this is a tough one. What 18 month old doesn't play in a constant tornado of toys? But on the other hand, most 18 month olds also thrive on a regular schedule and predictable routines. However . . . as I think back to how Renae does when we do have a change in routine, she handles it pretty well. When we've had guests here, our schedules are all out of wack and this didn't seem to bother Renae. So what if we are walking down a busy street full of people at a time of day when Renae is usually at home in bed. She's sitting upright in her stroller enjoying all the sights and people. Ok, I guess for this one she is a perceiver.

So let's review . . . that would make Renae an ESFP (Extroverted Sensing Feeling Perceiver) Here are a few quotes from A Portrait of an ESFP that I like:

As an ESFP, your primary mode of living is focused externally, where you take things in via your five senses in a literal, concrete fashion. Your secondary mode is internal, where you deal with things according to how you feel about them, or how they fit with your personal value system.

ESFPs live in the world of people possibilties. They love people and new experiences. They are lively and fun, and enjoy being the center of attention. They live in the here-and-now, and relish excitement and drama in their lives.

ESFPs love people, and everybody loves an ESFP. One of their greatest gifts is their general acceptance of everyone. They are upbeat and enthusiastic, and genuinely like almost everybody. An ESFP is unfailingly warm and generous with their friends, and they generally treat everyone as a friend. However, once crosesed, an ESFP is likely to make a very strong and stubborn judgment against the person who crossed them. They are capable of deep dislike in such a situation.

Yep, I'd say this is a good descriptor of Renae's CURRENT 18 month old personality. :) I'm sure there are MANY children her age that are the same way. And we all know how these things change! It was just fun to think about her pesronality possiblities.

Speaking of the little ESFP, she must have been worn out from the park because while I was typing this post, she crawled up onto the couch and fell fast asleep-something she has never done before. What a little sweetie.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A Homemade Coloring Table

I did some rearranging in Renae's room yesterday and decided to take the little table out of her room and into the living room. Then I decided that the little table had so much more potential . . .

  • Cute little table
  • 4-6 crayons
  • Electrical tape
  • Piece of cardboard
  • String

I cut the cardboard so it would fit on top of the table. Then I taped it down with electrical tape on each side. I could have done this in a cuter way but I didn't think of it until after the first two pieces of tape were laid. Oops.

I then taped the string to the crayons and cut them to the appropriate length. The strings are attached underneath the table at a length which makes it easy for Renae to color with them from any side of the table.

She is now free to color whenever she wants, without destroying the crayon box, without leaving crayons all over the place and without making a huge mess for her Mama. The downside is that eventually the cardboard box will be filled with pictures. The upside is, Renae is a year and a half old and she doesn't really care. She usually just colors over the same spot anyway.

Busy hands at work.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Weekend Away from the City

Sorry for the lack of post's lately . . . it's been a busy week. Renae had her first real doctor's visit and vacinations since we've been here. Poor thing . . . it's harder to see your 18 month old get shots than it is a 4 month old. Then Renae got pink-eye and Jesse got sick. It's what we call "one of those weeks." Oh well, it's over now!

Last weekend we headed out of the city where the air was fresh and clean. Renae enjoyed having the open space and friends to play with.

The view of the mountains never gets old for us, considering we come from the midwest!

Renae climbed up this slide all by herself. She had no fear.

And going down it by herself was also no problem.

Like I said, this view never gets old. We don't see this in the city . . .

Here are a few videos of Renae (of course). The first one is of her running skills (we get a kick out of how she tilts her knees inwards) and the second is of her going down the slide.