Sunday, January 31, 2010

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Why Soren is Lucky that Peter is his Dad

  • Peter always knows the best way to answer those tricky questions like “where is God?” and “Why did they kill Jesus?”

  • Peter is a good wrestler, but will still occasionally let a 4 year old escape his death grip.

  • Peter doesn’t get too mad even when you might mistake a fledgling vegetable plant for a weed and consequently pull it out of the ground.

  • Peter knows all the lyrics to the coolest classic rock songs.

  • Peter knows enough about how rockets work to make space conversations really long and interesting.

  • Peter will always come and rescue us from spiders.

  • Peter will let Soren stay up later than I will.

  • Peter will create such a build up to getting to eat a high sugar treat that it will taste more delicious than if you had just grabbed it out of the cupboard.

  • Peter is very good at snuggling.

  • Peter teaches important life skills. Like how to make rude gestures at obnoxious drivers (don’t worry, not that rude gesture.)

  • Peter always knows where all the ambulances, fire trucks and police cars are going and every last detail of the people they are going to help.

  • Peter gets to know everyone who ever has the slightest bit of responsibility in caring for Soren (doctors, teachers, nurses…)

  • Peter has high expectations.

  • Peter won’t tolerate whining. At all.

  • Peter will make up jokes. And laugh at the jokes you make up.

Hm, looking at it all makes it clear that these are a lot of reasons that Peter is a pretty awesome husband too. How lucky Soren and I are.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Life With Superheroes

Have you ever wondered what life was like for Superman's mom? (Ok, please don't correct me...there is probably some part of the comic book that explained that he didn't have a mom, or some other detail that I didn't learn by gaining my entire superhero knowledge from watching The Super Friends on Saturday mornings growing up.) Anyway, my theory is that it was probably tricky to parent Superman, or WonderWoman - what with all their abilities to leap tall buildings etc. I would imagine that those tots would have been a handful.

I kind of know what it is like.

Soren isn't able to shoot webs from his wrist like Spiderman, or breath underwater like Aquaman, but, dang, that kid has a superhuman sense of smell.

And he doesn't get it from a stranger.

When Peter was a boy, his parents quickly discovered that he could smell things that the average child couldn't smell. The story goes (according to Peter) that this special gift resulted in him helping his parents identify the exact spot in the house where the cat had peed so that they could get the smell out.

I personally think this gift is more of a curse. I will quite happily eat rotten ketchup and not notice that there is any problem whatsoever. Makes me very easy to satisfy in terms of house cleaning and eating. But Peter...and now Soren...poor guys, they suffer if anyone in their proximity has consumed garlic within the past 72-hours (I did brush my teeth, I promise!)

I cannot even begin to tell you how often I hear the telltale Peter sniffing sound which means that he's activating the schnozz to detect some detail in life about which I would have otherwise forever remained oblivious.

Soren was about 2 1/2 when I first noticed that he said "What's that smell?" more often that most children. And it wasn't just when I was burning dinner. Maybe I'd have a missing gym sock that fell out of my backpack under my car seat. Or maybe the wind has shifted to a westwardly direction and the oak trees instead of the evergreen trees are dropping their scent on the breeze (I'm just making stuff up now, but I think you get the point: like father, like son.)

We got new carpet last week. Peter was in heaven. We've both hated the carpet from the minute we bought the house eight years ago. It was ragged, stained and ugly (my reasons for hating it.) Peter always thought our house was stinky because there was one spot where a cat had peed literally a decade ago (his reason for hating it.) He Febreeze'd it until I considered buying stock in that company. But we just never made it a high enough priority to get new carpet. Until now.

So, last week we all were happy. I have fluffy, not stained carpet. And Soren announced "Mom, our house smells great!"

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Breakfast in Bed

Breakfast in bed makes me happy. philippines 059 In my house, when it happens I'm almost always on the receiving end of the yumminess. philippines 057 But every once in awhile, Peter lucks out too. Soren somehow has figured out how to be a part of the making and the receiving every time.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Rio de Janeiro...the End of the Trip

Arriving in Rio was awesome. All the famous sites were on display - you could see Ipanema and Copacabana beaches, Sugarloaf mountain, and of course the massive Christ the Redeemer statue (which seemed tiny off in the distance actually. Can you see it at the top of this image?)

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They even had their smaller airport with a landing strip right on the water's edge.

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We checked out of our cabin, said good-bye to all Soren's fans onboard (I'm not kidding when I say that it seemed that half the ship's staff seemed to know him by name at the end, they were really terrific), and then grabbed a taxi to our quaint little B&B in the hills of the Santa Teresa area of Rio.

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From this table we actually saw a pair of Toucans fly by during breakfast! And if we looked up the hills you could see the Christ statue looking down on us. Awesome at night!

Rio gets a bit of a bad rap from in the tourist circles for crime. On the ship we had a person who specialized in the ports. She'd give lectures on the sites, history, and the logistical details. For each stop, she'd list the do's & don'ts to keep all 2600 of our fellow rich fatcats from getting mugged. No small feat, that. Most places had the normal warnings about avoiding showy displays of wealth or wandering around the dicey areas. For Rio she said "Ok, in each town we've been to so far I've told you to be careful and smart, but not paranoid. Well, in Rio, be a little paranoid." Great.

The thought of being paranoid of my enormous camera wasn't too appealing. And I also have to say that the thought of seeing Rio without my enormous camera was pretty much equally unappealing. So we found a compromise. For our first full day in Rio we took a city tour that would whisk us from famous site to famous site ensconced in the safety and security of a guide and a minivan. Genius solution.

The enormous Christ the Redeemer was awesome.

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And the view...wow...

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The beaches were busy, beautiful and long.

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Sugarloaf mountain was another fabulous spot.

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The fact that the clouds rolled in while we were ascending only made it all the more amazing.

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And while these sites were spectacular, beautiful and totally photo-worthy, I do have to say that the next two days though were when we really fell in love with Rio. No camera to worry about, no watches, nothing to attract any greedy thief. We mastered the public transportation system, hopped buses all over the city. Visited the botanical garden. Frolicked on Ipanema beach. Found out of the way cafes. Poked at the strange barely-dead fish in the markets. Just had a blast. Rio rocks.

And late on night on Christmas Eve, we headed to the airport, the first of several legs of a journey that would bring us safely (and even precisely on time) home. What a great vacation.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Buenos Aires, Argentina.

You can see why once we left Cape Horn and the Falkland Islands, the weather warmed considerably - we'd really come quite a bit further north. Our time in Montevideo, Buenos Aires and Rio was back to summer again!



Perfect for strolling through the lovely city parks...ahem, or just sitting in them.

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Or, when that proved too exhausting, moving on to lovely cafes...

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For some tasty treats.

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Buenos Aires is described as having a "European feel" and we definitely found that to be true. Right down to the yummy little croissants.

Of course it wasn't all park benches and cafes. There were goofy pictures to be taken too.

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This is the Casa Rosada, where the head of state works. Made famous by Evita Peron giving speeches there. They say that Madonna also filmed some scenes there for her Evita movie (not that we'd know, we just can't quite get past it being Madonna and haven't even seen the movie.)

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There were so many lovely areas of the city to explore. One of my favorites was the Caminito area.

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So we, er, headed to another cafe just to watch the world pass by.

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Lovely.

Another highlight of Buenos Aires was Recoleta Cemetary. Yep, a cemetary. We actually do enjoy exploring cemetaries in different countries because they vary so much based on the local traditions. Those of Central and South America are among the best though. No simple headstone for them, no sir. How about a full tomb as an honor to your passed on beloved ones?

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Aren't they beautiful?

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While we were searching for the cemetary, we found a beautiful tree.

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And as we were admiring it, the skies opened and began absolutely pouring on us. At first we tried to take shelter under the branches. But it rained harder, and harder...and then we heard thunder...and realized that under a massive tree wasn't the best place to stand.

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So we ran for it...into the nearest cafe we could find. A fitting end for our time in Buenos Aires.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Montevideo, Uruguay

Our next stop was Montevideo, Uruguay. Pulling into ports was always interesting because you often saw a side of a city that you wouldn't otherwise see. In Montevideo, it was a working container port. Pretty fascinating to watch the huge equipment that loads and unloads all the cargo ships.

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Our time in Montevideo was pretty low key. We spent most of the day strolling around and exploring the lovely squares and the buildings that surrounded them.

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Doesn't this guy look like he's giving Santa a parking ticket?

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We sat and watched him for awhile (an excuse to take a break in a street-side cafe) but never did figure out exactly what he was doing.

We spent some time searching for treasures in the open air markets.

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I remain convinced that Peter buys things just because he like bargaining so much.

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Our very favorite spot in Montevideo was the Mercado del Puerto. In fact, I think it must rival any tourist spot for just full-on atmosphere. It was an indoor area of restaurants, kind of felt like a huge train station. But here the grilling meat was the main attraction!

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It was spectacular, there were probably 10 different restaurants like this, all loaded to the hilt with grilling meat.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Cape Horn and The Falkland Islands

Kind of the whole point of this cruise was going around Cape Horn. Well, we did it. I have to say that for me it was a bit of an anti-climax. There is a lot of history to the spot, but actually seeing it? Well, it looks like some rocky land.

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We did (again) get lucky and have fairly calm seas for this portion of the journey which is definitely not usually the case. Even a short time after we rounded the Horn we heard that it got considerably rougher.

The next day though was another of the great highlights for me: the Falkland Islands.

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Here again, we'd prearranged for a tour. Our trusty guide met us at the port and got our convoy of 4x4's ready to roll.

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There's still plenty of evidence of the 1982 Falkland's War.

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In fact, they've only recently begun clearing the miles and miles of land mines. This is a Zimbabwe land mine team working to clear the land.

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Researching the excursion, I knew that we'd have a 2.5 hour journey across the islands to get to Volunteer Point, one of the best sites for seeing penguins. Two and a half hours seemed like a lot of driving just to see some birds, ya know? But little did I know that the drive turned out to be almost as exciting as the penguins!

The first hour or so was across roads, or at least trails.

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Passing some picturesque farmhouses along the way.

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But the last bit of the trip was across the peat bogs! No roads, no trails! We travelled in a convoy so that when one vehicle got stuck, there would be others to pull them out. It happened several times.

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It was fascinating. The peat was soft so the vehicles would sink as they'd roll along. Made some nice cushioning for the passengers too!

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And, at long last, we made it to Volunteer Point.

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The Gentoo Penguins were out en masse, tending their young.

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It seems they were quite accustomed to their celebrity status, they didn't pay much attention to us at all.

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But I'd have to say that the King Penguins were our favorites.

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In addition to penguins, there were lots of sheep on the islands. Soren enjoyed playing archeologist and was stuffing bones in his pockets as quickly as he could.

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One adolescent King Penguin in particular couldn't resist the temptation of playing tug of war with a little sheep bone.

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But when that ended in a tie, they just moved on to a stare down...

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Before arriving, we'd debated whether or not Soren would be taller than a King Penguin. Mystery solved, we discovered that unless they are stretching their necks to make their squawking noises (which they do a lot,) Soren is indeed bigger. I think this confidence led way to a little penguin waddle mockery.

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But here's one area where my photography failed me. This was probably one of the most beautiful beaches I've ever seen. The sea was this incredible crystal green color. Only the frigid temperatures (oh, and possibly the remote location) keep this from being the next must-visit beach vacation.

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But, sadly, we did need to leave Volunteer Point.

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After a long journey back through the peat bogs, we arrived back in the port of Stanley where we had a short time to explore. Soren wasted no time finding instruments of destruction.

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Which, in this case, had actually been used within our lifetime.

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And then it was time to bid a fond farewell to the Falkland Islands.

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