Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunny Sunday in the yard

It is winter in the southern hemisphere. In Santiago it gets cold at night, but during the day if the sun comes out, it can reach a decent temperature. Because of some sprinking rain we got over the weekend, the air was a bit cleaner today, the sun was out, and the sky was a bright blue. I am recovering from a cold bug, so it felt good to get some air outside.

So this was a piece of our Sunday in the yard.

G making grass angels

A sibling hug

One of the lemon trees... can you say "pisco sour"?

Our winter garden. We could only grow a few thing: baby lettuce, spinach (with some swiss chard sneaking in) onions and leeks (which have been very slow), and radishes.

Little harvest: some swiss chard that I sauted with some olive oil and garlic... and the first little radishes I picked to make room for some others--which we had in a salad with some of the baby lettuce.

Is there anything quite so divine as something you grew yourself?

I hope your Sunday was happy!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Class Rooster

Guess who cried when he was told that he couldn't take the rooster home?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Expressions of discontent

My daughter has begun openly expressing her feelings of unhappiness with her parents.

She has uttered those three words that all parents hear eventually--(though they think they will never hear because they are model parents): "I hate you!"

Personally, I think if you never hear those words, you may not be setting the limits you should be setting, but that might just be to make myself feel better.

She has also taken to frowning, grumbling, wailing, and of course, the timeless favorite, the screetchy whine.

A few weeks ago, grmbling at me for some reason I can't recall, she exclaimed: "I am going to send you to the jungle! I'll help you pack your bag"

I tried very hard not to laugh and asked her who would make her waffles in the morning.

Today, upset with her papi about feeling unfairly gilted in a game of kick-the-ball-around-the-room, she quickly drew this picture and gave it to him to express her anger.

Do you see that frown? those tightly-knit brows? The message is quite clear, no?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Random thoughts on a Friday night...

It is Friday night. It is cold, very cold. It has been raining for two days which means that when the sky clears, the view of the snow-capped Andes will be clear and vivid... until the city smog settles into the valley again.

These are the moments when I love living here, even in the winter. I will try to get a photo... you will die (figuratively, of course, I hope) and then rush to buy a plane ticket. It takes your breath away.

Rain means "sopaipillas" in Chile. We have eaten them twice today, once with an aunt and then again because our sweet neighbor brought some. Sopaipillas are little fried disks of a pumpkin dough, explained beautifully here, with a recipe and all. They are ok, much better with a killer "pebre" (their version of hot sauce --looks a little like pico de gallo, but not as spicy), but as far as pumpkin things go, pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumkin cookies, pumkin pancakes, jack-o-lanterns, and roasted pumpkin seeds win by a landslide. Not that I am culturally biased...

These past few weeks have been a little more relaxed. I know you didn't exactly know my life wasn't in a state of relaxation, but I think a few of you noticed I hadn't been posting. My first semester as a university professor (can you believe that?!) has been winding down and then ended this week. I just have to grade one last set of final exams. My reprieve will be short-lived though--the second semester begins the first week of August and I still have a lot of preparation to do. Is it too early to start dreaming of December? (December is the end of the school year)

I can't believe we have been here for nine months already. Time has flown by. I am busy with work all week. Weekends seem to fly by too. Saturday we "recup", get groceries, etc. Chileans are prone to very long Sunday lunches with family. By long, I mean loooooooooong... like from 2-9. When we host, it also involves cooking and preparing before that. Part of the reason is the Chilean tradition of the sobremesa the after-meal discussions that extend for sometimes hours.

We all have a good time, even though I always end up with that sensation that I lost an entire day. The kids have really enjoyed playing with their cousins, so I know they are creating memories and building a sense of family, which is important.

At the end of this month I have to apply for permanent residency, a delightful beaurocratic process that involves lots of line-time. I am pretty sure I am going to pay someone to do it for me, because I don't have time. Please don't worry about any lack of authenticity in my experience, I have had lots of practice renewing visas with extranjeria (immigration), so I have done my time.

Also at the end of this month, the hubs and I will celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary... which means we have been together for 14 almost 15 years. Does that seem like an eternity to anyone else? I think 10 years deserves something special, so for our anniversary, I am going to officially, publically recognize him as my spouse on Facebook. Stay tuned for his reaction!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Artificial Sweeteners and Other Evils

Peg at Cachando Chile posted today about annoyances one has to deal with living in Chile. I have only been here for 9 months (Can you believe it has been 9 months already?!) and I have tried to be flexible and positive. There have honestly only been a few moments where I have been very irritated. Besides the example I added in her comments (about the inappropriate use of emergency lights) there are not very many general irritations.

The only other one I can think of is this:

I HATE artificial Sweeteners!

Is that too emphatic? Well, it is worthy of emphasis. I hate'em!

In the U.S. they seemed fairly easy to avoid, in Chile this isn't quite the case--they are nearly impossible to avoid and products that contain them are not always labelled as "light" or "diet." I was excited to find greek yogurt at the supermarket and was then dismayed at home to find it has sucralose though it doesn't say "light" anywhere... GRR!

I drink pop every once in a while, and when I do, I like regular Coke. I put regular sugar in my coffee. Occasionally, at a party, if there are only diet sodas, I'll break my general rule and drink some, but I try not to break that rule with foods and drinks my kids ingest, but it is nearly impossible: sucralose and aspartame are in everything.

Kids here, like kids everywhere (and adults everywhere, I guess), have problems with obesity--it's a combination of being sedentary and the low cost/easy access of fast food. These issues coupled with the odd cultural fact that Chileans just don't drink water. There is a low-no calorie alternative for every drink available, and they are almost more common than the real-sugar option. There are drops and little tic-tac-like balls and bottles and packets of all kinds and combinations of sugar alternatives.

But when they start making children's juice and soda with alternative sweeteners, I go a little mad. The hardest part of our entire-family vacation in February, was the head-on collision of different feeding criteria. My kids wanted to know why they couldn't drink Frutix--the bane of my existence! whenever they were thirsty (Frutix is an insanely bright colored kids' soda with very low calories thanks to sucralose... and 5% real fruit juice! ps--that last part was sarcasm). I was wildly unpopular for a few days for limiting them to one very small glass with lunch (a painful compromise) and my daughter even requested a different set of parents. My poor kids! I guess I am old-fashioned that way--soda is for special occasions. It is bad enough to see very small children with a baby-bottle full of coke and a bag of potato chips -- for me, the fact that it is probably diet coke makes it worse, not better.

If your children are ingesting too much sugar, cut down. If your children are drinking too many calories in juice and soda, give them water. Why would you give them something that has a limit for acceptable daily ingestion?

Lecture ends and Annje steps down from soap box

p.s. I finally found a vitamin for the kids that doesn't have an artificial sweetener--so excited!

p.s.s I'll try to post more often