the importance of remembering

it's been a long time since i've written anything down, and i hate that it's a habit i no longer have. for years, most of my day was spent documenting memories and stories, writing down facts and milestones about the kids or our family, keeping track of all the things we will want to remember.

i haven't touched paper and glue for years, i no longer write on a daily or weekly basis, and those are things that need to change.

the days and months are speeding up, and i'm afraid they're going to pass right by and i won't have paid enough attention because of the constant busyness, and not being mindful in the moment.

say what you will about scrapbooking and memory keeping: you have to be present, and you have to pay attention.

the coming nine months will find me pulling out all of those rusty skills for a very important reason: henry's graduation.

because that little pork chop just started his senior year.

 

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ouch.

last year, the big milestone was that he drove himself to school. this year, he didn't even go to the high school on his first day ... instead, he's enrolled at the local community college for the year. he's ready to be done and on his way; the next phase can't come soon enough for him.

we're knee-deep in college talk. he has his first official visit with a coach and a school in september ... the swimming will continue. i can't even begin to comprehend how quickly this school year will go, and if i dwell on that too long, it breaks my heart. and yet, i'm so excited for him and what comes next. i know he will have a great time wherever he goes, and he will love the challenge of the classes he takes and the opportunities that are presented.

but that's next year. 12 months away. i'm not going to think about it. instead, i will cherish that he will be home for lunch most days, and because of his community college schedule, we will actually have a bit more time together during the week than if he was at the high school.

looking for those things to remember and hold on to.

yesterday, he texted me from the parking lot when he got to school, just to say he was there and he loved me. today, he met a girl friend at the mall after school and had lunch and did a little shopping. one foot still here, one foot halfway out the door.

and that's as it should be, i guess.

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of course she did

i should have known. two weeks ago, when i was super pumped that harp had officially landed on and committed to a look for her new, more grown-up room, i should have known it wouldn't stick.

i mean, i've known this kid for 12 years. changing her mind is kind of her thing.

this was the plan that she was all, "yes! that's it!" about:

 

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she wanted blue-gray. she wanted to make off with the guest room bedding. she wanted a metal bed.

well, guess what?

we went to the furniture store to order the bed, flipped to the ones i had thought she might like, and she was suddenly as cold-footed as playboy on his wedding day.

"i think i want an upholstered bed instead."

**headdesk**

so we left. and i told her that was it; no more planning, no more room. i was out until she was fully on board with something.

about a week later, while walking through target, she spotted a pillow that was a blushy-peach geometric design with gray tassels ...

51588765and she had her a-ha moment.

"i really like this peach color. and the gray. that's really pretty."

we walked a little more and saw a gray quilt, and she oohed and aahhed over it, and said, "peach and gray. i like that."

i found some blush-peach sheets, put them next to the gray quilt and the pillow, and she was all, "yup: that."

(seriously: i'm trying so hard to not simmer at this point. do you know how many "yes!"es i've heard from her in the past year about this room?!)

i put the quilt and sheets and pillow in the cart and told her that they would stay there while we walked around the store. if she hadn't changed her mind by the time we were ready to go, i would buy them and we would fully commit to her room. she agreed, then said, "and if i change my mind again, you can slap me in the face!"

that seemed a little dramatic, but ... this IS harper we're talking about.

we wandered another half an hour or so, getting what we needed, and by the time we were done, she said that she really liked the peach and gray.

so: great. but that still doesn't solve the bed issue.

yesterday, i told her to go sit on henry's metal bed, and then go to the basement to sit on the upholstered bed. and take the new pillow with her. she did, and looked at the new pillow with each bed, and stated that she was 100% sure about a metal bed. 100%. and to make sure she couldn't change her mind again, we went to the furniture store, looked at the metal beds in their book, she picked one out as her favorite, and we ordered the damn thing.

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while she did her homework, i played around with the design board i'd made for her. while talking about the new pillow, i said the peach and gray would still look nice with the gray-blue color she said she wanted on the walls, and she told me that she really liked the peach, and might like that for her walls instead. so that was the first thing i changed. then i removed the woodland bedding and replaced it with the gray quilt and peach sheets. after that, a few other options no longer felt right. i swapped out the idea of a print tray for her little knickknacks and clay creations for a gray hexagon shelf that she already has. then i looked for some sort of fabric or curtain for her windows that would tie it all together, and found what i think will be the perfect one at tonic living. the colors in the fabric inspired a change to the paint color for the desk - from the deep coral/peach in the previous plan to a more golden tone. then i found a nightstand at world market that has a similar lotus flower shape as the flowers in the fabric, and i had an a-ha moment of my own.

and then the design board looked complete.

 

 

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we will also keep the copper and wood shelf idea from the previous plan ...

 

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after looking at it all together, i told harper that the bed she picked was going to look great in the room because if you use the creative side of your brain, it kind of resembles a fox/wolf face. the serendipity of it makes me feel like this room is going to stick.

i'm still going to hurry up and paint before she can change her mind again, again.

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mother's day wish list

it's that time of year again, when i list all the fantastic things that could be a mother's day gift!

this year, i'll be sitting in the bleachers at a swim meet on mother's day, so i should really wish for something like this ...

 

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but since when is a mother's day gift about practicality??

so, without further ado:

first up ...

the are you kidding me with this?? cuteness of le creuset's special fleur dutch oven ...

 

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i feel like i would wear these daily ...

 

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this feels like a no brainer, because mother's day ...

 

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 but also, what mom doesn't love jewelry that speaks to her heart?

 

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one of these days, i'm gonna buy one of everything from jill rosenwald's studio. but we could start with this for mother's day ...

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brandi carlile put together an album of covers of "the story" and it's amazing. beyond amazing, in fact. i'm putting the vinyl version on my mother's day list cuz i may have already ordered the cd version. go listen to the tracks on npr, then put it on your list, too. (bonus: all proceeds benefit war child uk)

 

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and hey ... who doesn't want a print of a dub flag commemorating game seven of the world series, and bill murray crying on the field after the cubbies won?!

 

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truthfully, all i ever really want on mother's day is a walk around the lake with my family, a meal at one of my favorite places, and maybe a bouquet of my favorite flower ...

 

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and that bleacher seat. i mean seriously ... i spend a lot of time sitting on bleachers ...

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time to get decorate-y

tap tap tap ... is this thing on?

a nearly four-month hiatus was unintentional, but life's like that sometimes. seriously, though ... how long and exhausting and existentially brutal have the past four months been?!

but now it's time for spring ... new energy ... things shifting. time to think locally. and what is more local than finally changing up my daughter's room?

we've been talking about it for nearly two years now, and harper has changed her mind four different times. last week, though, the one room challenge started again, and i decided that's it: time to jump in and play along from home and make this room happen. over the next six weeks, harp's room will finally ... hopefully ... get that makeover, barring any new surprises (like the $1000 we spent in the past two weeks to find out if our aging cat is dying (test results: he isn't), or spending the past 10 days watching marc try to fix our dryer, fingers crossed that he could figure it out (he did)).

the room will grow up and and warm up, and turn into the den of pre-teenage coziness that harper wants. without being a literal DEN of coziness, like she said she wanted. ("mom ... maybe we could make a wolf den! like, wood and sticks on the walls, and a furry bedspread ..." hilde santos-tomas would have loved that idea.)

 

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we started with color ... what colors did she want in her room? she initially said dark blue, gray, aqua,  yellow. so i played around with that and came up with an idea. and she liked it. and then she didn't.

 

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then i showed her the beautiful cole + sons birches wallpaper, and she loved that. and then she didn't.

 

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i showed her rooms that used stikwood on the walls, and told her we could do something along those lines to bring in the "wood/den" feeling.

 

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she thought that might be okay, then changed her mind.

after that, i sort of let the idea go for awhile. she wasn't in a place to be sure of anything, and i didn't want to make a move without her being on board. why waste time and money if she wasn't sure of what she wanted?

before the holidays last year, she said she was finally ready to get a bigger bed and update her room. we started with what kind of bed she wants, and talked about buying a wood headboard or making something, but then she spent the night with a friend who has an upholstered headboard and harp declared that she, too, wanted an upholstered headboard. we continued to talk through things, and then out of the blue she said, "i want bedding like what we have in the guest room." what we have in the guest room is this duvet cover from schoolhouse electric:

 

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and i told her, "harp: if you love that bedding, you can have it. we'll do the room around that starting point. what do you think?" and she was 100% in, and stayed there. (bonus points for not having to buy new bedding, just new sheets.) i began the hunt for options for a new bed, since she will be upsizing to a full from a twin. i showed her some upholstered ones, but she couldn't really visualize what it might all look like, so i made some mood boards to help her out.

first was a background wall color, then the bedding, a picture of her dresser (which will stay the same) and of a writing desk similar to the one i've had since college (which she wants to keep), and the prints that she currently has framed and on her walls. then i pulled in a couple of other pieces, and different upholstered beds from world market and target and wayfair so she could see how it might all come together.

 

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she ix-nayed the gold one right away, but thought the natural ones looked okay, and she really liked the idea of bringing in the coral color on the desk.

time went by and we didn't do a thing. (holidays, general sense of ennui after the first of the year,  you know ...) about a month ago she asked when we could start her room, so i looked up the beds again, and the same ones were no longer available, though there are others that are pretty close. i remembered her comment about liking the coral, and threw in this wild card from target ...

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i loved it, but she said no way, jose.

i also showed her this bed which, while still upholstered, also has a dark metal element that would play off the black metal knobs on her dresser, and the proposed pipe shelves.

 

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she loved this one. like, LOVED. because i'm an idiot, though, i hadn't read any of the reviews about it before showing it to harper. turns out, many people who had bought it didn't like that it felt cheap, that the metal was brown instead of black/bronze, the upholstery appears beige online but is actually white, etc.

uuugggghhhhhhh.

i also saw someone on instagram had the same bed, and she said it was from pottery barn, so i checked there. yeah ... that bed has natural linen and a black/bronze frame, but it is also $1200 ... not the $280 that wayfair was offering. so i broke the news to harper, and she said that she really liked it because of the metal, which reminded her of henry's bed, and really ... she just wants a bed just like henry's.

yes, henry has an iron bed. not upholstered. iron. what harper apparently wanted all along but never told me.

again, uuugggghhhhh.

a quick search on wayfair later, i found a lovely metal bed that looks like a more feminine version of henry's. i did a little re-arranging of the mood board, and showed harp.

and she said, "YES! that's my room!"

 

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the wall color is slightly lighter and slightly more gray. the bed is metal. the sconces in harp's room that we planned to keep will get replaced by these white and gold numbers from ikea. her ceiling light will get swapped out for a basket shade ... this ikea one, if the size isn't too big. her coral-painted writing desk will get these adorable bronze fox knobs from anthro. and the pipe and board shelves? i found this genius version on pinterest that will bring in a lighter wood tone and more of that coral/copper:

 

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the only thing left to figure out is the window treatment, but that will come as we pull it all together.

harp loves this plan, i love this plan, and i can't wait to get it started for her! as long as she doesn't change her mind about something else in the meantime ...

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see you later, snowflake

christmas has come and gone, and with it, so too has snowflake.

our last 10 days with her and gray kitty looked a little like this:

day 16: snowflake and gray kitty were simply hanging out on a wreath at the bottom of the stairs. still, it took harper a bit of looking to find them. sometimes the most obvious is the least obvious, or something like that ...

 

 

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day 17: snowflake and gray kitty were battling each other in a heated game of "guess who" in the basement.

 

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day 18: they decided to hang out on the silver bells that adorned the banister. glad they didn't swing on them ... that would have been a little noisy.

 

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day 19: a warm, snuggly hiding place.

 

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day 20: time for snowflake and gray kitty to get fancied up and decorate the barbie tree.

 

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day 21: somehow harper missed this on her dresser first thing in the morning, but snowflake and gray kitty left her a little impression of themselves.

 

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day 22: they were there first thing in the morning, to greet harper when she went to brush her teeth.

 

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day 23: snowflake and gray kitty ambitiously spelled out a message for us on the day before the day before christmas.

 

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day 24: snowflake kept her tradition of bringing harper's christmas jammies on christmas eve. this year, she had a pair for wyatt and nora, too.

 

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day 25: christmas morning, snowflake was gone, but she left a message - and photographic evidence - for harper that she enjoyed the cookie harp decorated and left for santa.

 

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another christmas done. another year with snowflake over. and who knows what the next year will bring, but at least we know that no matter what, snowflake will come for a visit, and will bring christmas joy and magic with her.

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snowflake, week two

it's about to get really snowy and really REALLY cold around here in the next 24-72 hours. snowflake may want to just hang out at our place for the weekend and skip the trip back up north.

i'll have harp mention that to her ...

in the meantime, here's a look at snowflake and gray kitty's second week of visiting us:

day 9: who doesn't love to build a blanket fort, grab some snacks, and spend the day snuggled up and reading? apparently, north pole elves feel the same way.

 

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day 10: snowflake and gray kitty gathered up some friends for a little photo op ...

 

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day 11: snowflake won a major award!

 

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day 12: apparently, we have a musical elf ...

 

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day 13: harper loves to sew clothes for her menagerie of teeny tiny animals. apparently, snowflake wanted to include her own garment into teeny tiny animal couture.

 

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day 14: nothing like finding an elf and a cat in your fridge to get your heart pumping at 6 a.m.

 

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day 15: and today, snowflake must have heard about the impending weather, because she and gray kitty are all set with popcorn and christmas movies, and look perfectly content to sit tight. truth be told, i'd really like to join them.

 

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our first week with snowflake

it's december. the year is winding down (which ... how?? already??), and the start of this month brings the high school swim season, dodgy weather, marc's busy season (well, busier than normal.), the holidays, and snowflake.

hey there, snowflake.

harper and i both searched her room the night before december 1, trying to find gray kitty, but we just couldn't find her. harp was philosophical: "maybe snowflake knows where gray kitty is" ... "maybe gray kitty went to visit the north pole and will come back with snowflake" ... etc.

she hoped for the best, and laid out a nice warm bed, a cup of water, and a nightlight to greet her elf. and in the morning, not only was snowflake tucked into her blankets, but so was gray kitty.

 

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and so begins our visit with snowflake.

day 2: snowflake needed a sugar recharge from her long journey. lucky for her, our halloween candy was still in a bowl in the entryway. in the morning, harper found her and gray kitty hiding among the candlesticks, with a little pile of candy wrappers around them.

 

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day 3: harp woke up to find snowflake and gray kitty had done a little overnight christmas decorating in the bathroom. (we've decided to leave up the lights, and perhaps make them a yearly thing; that pink glow is pretty cheerful.)

 

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day 4: snowflake earned her keep by bringing breakfast. that was an appreciated gesture.

 

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day 5: we got the christmas tree up and decorated, but snowflake beat me to putting on the tinsel.

 

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day 6: having missed out on the fun of decorating the tree, snowflake and gray kitty decorated their own tree.

 

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day 7: snowflake and gray kitty looked how i felt yesterday morning.

 

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day 8: apparently, there is a game of hide and seek going on this morning.

 

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ecuador, part let's finish this

i need to complete this round-up of our trip to ecuador before the chaos of thanksgiving/high school swim season/christmas/end of school year/graduations/first grandchild hits. because yes, it will probably go that fast.

but first,

YYYYAAAAAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSS, CUBS!!!!!

just had to get that out.

okay: ecuador.

the last couple of days in ecuador were a mixed bag. we were exhausted, we all took turns being sick for a day, and our enthusiasm waned. because of that, some of our plans got altered, and things we wanted to do and see got nixed. but before we hit the wall, there were a few really nice moments.

during our first week, we were able to have dinner at the home of one of marc's closest friends. matt and marc grew up together, matt attended college about an hour away from where marc and i went, so the guys were able to keep in touch and i was able to get to know matt. he was the best man in our wedding, and before that there is a long story involving spring break, a ratty shack on the beach in florida, and matt literally saving the day for me and my dear friend by letting us crash on his couch for a few days. needless to say, we love matt. he married a few years ago, and he and his family now live in quito, and he teaches at the academy where he and marc attended high school. his wife is lovely, and his kids are pretty great. harper and his eldest daughter totally clicked.

 

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we also did a little grocery shopping with harp, and she had fun looking at all the strange fruit. she's the pickiest eater, but she'll eat any weird fruit you put in front of her. i guess that's a good thing.

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and she got her first haircut from aunt hannah.

 

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on our second to last day, we walked from the guest house to the academy, so marc and steve could show us where they went to school. matt was there, too, and gave the grand tour. harper's stomach was starting to bother her, so we missed most of the tour, but saw the best parts:

the gym ... where marc spent most of his waking hours and, apparently, was a god ...

 

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he said the locker room felt a little smaller, though ...

 

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and his locker is still there ...

 

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the last Must Do before we headed home was the teleferico ... a ski-lift/gondola-type ride that goes 1000 meters up, along pichincha. because harper was afflicted with stomach issues, and she isn't one for heights anyway, i stayed back at the house with her and hannah while the guys took the ride. i gave marc my camera and crossed my fingers. and being guys, about all i got from them about the trip was, "it was cool" and "the view was amazing." so just keep that in mind as you scroll through the pix.

 

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 (yes, this is what i was afraid of.)

 

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(with all those antennae, there MUST be a signal ...)

 

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(typical teenager move)

 

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(stiiiilllll looking for service ...)

 

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and then they were home. since the boys got to have an outing, hannah and i took one last cab ride to an artist market in downtown quito for a few more souvenirs, and ended up with some lovely earrings that we dubbed the "sister earrings." (hey ... if the boys could have their fun ...)

and then that was that.

our flight home didn't leave until 11:30 p.m., so we spent our final day doing laundry, trying to fit all the souvenirs (marc bought one suitcase-worth of snacks) into our bags, playing some final games. as the sun started to set, harp and i said one last farewell to cayambe ...

 

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and then it was over.

we boarded our plane, and soon everyone was asleep. well, almost everyone. i can't sleep on planes. which means i got to see panama ...

 

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and cuba, which i actually woke henry to see, because he did a school project about taking study abroad in cuba and now very much wants to go. and also, we could see cuba!

 

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then there was lightning over the florida keys ...

 

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a super quick stop in atlanta ... (like, 90 minutes to deplane, get through customs, get to our next gate) ... and then we were on our way home.

it was a wonderful adventure, i'm so glad it finally worked out to take the kids and let them see the culture in which their dad grew up, and i know it was eye-opening for both of them ... and for me, too. it was great to finally get to know hannah better, and for marc to have time with his brother. the trip was worth every penny, every tired day, every day we thought the altitude would kill us, every day we thought diarrhea would kill us, every day we thought harper would kill us ...

and that's the end of the story. thanks for sticking it out.

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ecuador, part 4

i'm almost done. i swear. but ... it was 10 days. that's a lot of stuff to cover.

the trip to otavalo was a really great day. the ride there was through some amazing topography ... we were coming out of the altitude of quito through these strange hills of the andes, so dry and desert-like, and many are covered with this odd industrial run-off material. it was such an unusual landscape that we were all captivated by what was out the window. half an hour into the ride, we pulled off the road at an overlook and took in our surroundings.

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another half an hour down the road, the landscape started to get more green. steve had heard from someone that there is a great place to eat just outside of otavalo, off the main road but near a lake. we decided to find it, and once we did, we were all so glad. to say "a little place by the lake" is such an understatement to describe what we found. the view left us all a little speechless and giddy.

 

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the restaurant, which was part of a resort of small cabins, was literally on the edge of this lake, with the hill directly across from us. as we sat and ate, all we could see was the water and this amazing hill rising up from it. at lovely as the hills and mountains of quito are, i'm a water girl, and didn't realize how much i need to see water until we got to this place. my soul was instantly happy.

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we reluctantly tore ourselves away after lunch, and finished our trek to otavalo so we could check out the market.

 

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when marc and i were dating, i would often hear his family talk about the "otavalo indian market," but i had no idea what to expect. the center of town fills with booths full of textiles and sweaters and crafts and art, and the storefronts surrounding the market open up to sell food and other home goods. the people are incredibly friendly, but they are also relentless in their quest to get you to buy something. i had gone into it with the thought that i wasn't going to haggle; the price they asked was the price they wanted to get. however, when a blanket at one stall is $25, and two stalls over the same blanket goes for $11, you soon learn to find out what their best offer is.

(though it blew my mind every time that i would refuse an amazing, silky alpaca wool blanket for $18. i mean ... i would have bought 20.)

 

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 i was glad we'd chosen to go on a week day, when it was way less crowded. henry had already decided this was his least favorite activity of the trip so far, and after an hour of looking through the same sort of items over and over, your eyes start to glaze over. but we all found a few things to make us happy - marc, a soccer shirt; harper, an alpaca jacket; henry, a wooden bowl with an indian head painted on it; and i did get a couple of blankets and a silver ring - so it was a successful trip. after a quick stop for water at a place with an actual bathroom, we got back in the van to head home.

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and that was otavalo.

one more part, and i think this story will be finished.

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ecuador, part 3

part 1 ... part 2 ... life intrudes ... part 3:

our next big outing in ecuador was to mitad del mundo ... the center of the world ... the equator.

there are two centers of the earth, apparently ... the first was determined in the 1730s by a french explorer, and the official second site was gps-verified and developed in recent years. the new one is only 250 meters from the old one ... those early explorers did a pretty good job!

 

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we started at the newest one.

there is a replica village, complete with history of the area and some of the indian tribes. included in that history is a legit shrunken head and instructional seminar on how one makes a shrunken head. (allegedly, tribes no longer shrink heads. but still ... they have the know-how.) the most interesting thing about the process is that after cutting off the enemy's head, pulling out the skull, and filling the skin with a rock, they then sew up the mouth because they don't want the enemy's "evil spirits" to escape. (they couldn't escape through, say, the nostrils or ears or, like, the neck? and the spirits somehow live not in the brain or the heart but in the head skin? okay.)

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we continued through huts and kitchens and where they kept the cuy, or guinea pigs. (more about the guinea pigs in a bit.) our guide explained the way the indians lived, different activities and rituals (did you know if your husband died, you got to be buried with him - alive but drugged - so that you could care for him in the afterlife? thank god for feminism.), what it's like to live in the amazon. (the 10' python model was super encouraging ... encouraging me to not go to the amazon.)

 

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then we reached the line marking the equator.

 

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while at the equator, the guide did various experiments - how water flows down a drain in different directions, depending on what side of the equator she places the basin; how your balance is better right on the equator, how you have better leverage and strength on the equator, and so on.

 

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then we got to try the famous "balancing an egg on its end because its on the equator" trick.

 

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while standing at the egg balancing station, we could see a monument off in the distance. i asked what that was, and was told that it is the original site. remember how i said they are so close to each other?

 

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after egg balance had been achieved, we got our passports stamped with "center of the earth" ...

 

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then drove 10 minutes down the road to middle earth number two. this was the equator marc remembered going to when he was a kid, though much had been changed and built up since the last time he was there. he said it was all very impressive ... and it was. this was our favorite equator.

 

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our first order of business was lunch, and there were shops and places to eat all around the grounds. steve & hannah had a favorite restaurant, and there was a porch with tables and a lovely breeze.

marc ordered yet another ceviche, henry started with a big plate of sausage and eggs and plantains, harp had another choclo and some chicken soup, and i had a plate of corvina ... an ecuadorean white fish that is so yummy.

 

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however, before our meal arrived, we tried an ecuadorean specialty: cuy. remember what cuy is? yes ... guinea pig.

 

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it was interesting. i wouldn't say it was terrible, but i wouldn't say it was all that great, either. definitely a check mark on the list of exotic things to eat, though.

when we had finished lunch, henry actually decided to keep eating ... a cheeseburger, and then something else. i don't know what, because the girls decided to head to some of the surrounding shops while the guys (*guy) ate. half an hour later, we were all ready to walk off our lunches and check out the area.

we headed straight for the monument and climbed to the top. there was a great view of the surrounding area. as we stood there, we watched clouds envelop a nearby hill, and a small dust tornado swirl around a little neighborhood. the view was pretty amazing.

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back on the ground floor, we checked out the non-equator, and then wandered through some of the small museums scattered throughout the park.

 

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before we left, steve & hannah took us to their favorite shop, run by an ecuadorean woman named elvira, and her son, whom steve & hannah have befriended and always visit when they take guests to the monument. elvira was just the sweetest lady, and couldn't get over how tall marc and the kids are. she has granddaughters harper's age, and didn't believe us when we said harper is 11. i tried to tell her that i, too, am "muy alta," but elvira just laughed at me.

she talked to marc for quite awhile about the last time he visited quito, his time there for school, all the while she and her son were helping our kids find the perfect souvenirs. harper got a stuffed llama; henry got whatever this is:

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(which, he says, will be worn at high school meets this winter. so stay tuned for that.)

it was so good to hear marc using his spanish. he's been more than reluctant to pull out that particular skill over the years, even though i have repeatedly begged him to be conversational with the kids so they will pick up some. he did a much better job that he thinks he can do.  henry also did a really good job understanding what he was hearing and responding to the best of his ability, having four years of spanish under his belt. i had four years in school as well, but that was a long time ago. still, i could understand more than i thought i would, and could offer very rudimentary replies. just enough to feel like i wasn't totally in the dark.

amazingly enough, for the first week or so after we got home, i found myself expecting to hear spanish, and thinking of spanish responses. it's very weird to try and switch brain gears. but it motivates me to try to learn another language. spanish would make the most sense, but i've always wanted to take french or italian ... who knows.

anyway, after the shop, we walked toward the entrance of the park to find the car and call it a day. along the way, there were about a dozen identical hummingbird sculptures and leaf seats, and all had been painted by different artists. harper loved these, and had me take a photo of her sitting in each one, with her camera. and i had to get a picture or two for myself.

 

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one last stop before we called it a day: there was a very cool modern building just outside the park, and it was surrounded by all these different flags. we were very curious about what it was, and discovered it's actually the united nations building for south american countries - unasur.

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and that was that. we drove home, cleaned up, and went to marc's favorite steak place for dinner to celebrate steve's belated birthday ... and marc had yet another ceviche. (count: four days, five ceviches.) it was a day full of information and sun and walking and food and spanish. we were all exhausted, but it was a really wonderful experience.

next experience on the docket: the otovalo market. and that will be part 4.

 

 

 

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