Vital this Mothers Day


What a mothersday weekend we’ve had!  It was our wedding anniversary, maybe not commemorated lavishly, but no less celebrated.  There were multiple mothers day performances and events.

There were the Peruvian folk dances yesterday, performed by the most delightful preschool dancers in front of a crowd of proud mommies, daddies and assorted family.  There was plenty to enjoy even if you weren’t a proud parent – from the matador who almost stepped on his cloak several times, to the young bull obsessed with his horns, to the amplified spontaneous comments of a preschooler who certainly did not understand the magic of the microphones in front of him.

Next, a toddler baker, in an apron and chef’s toque, made cookies with mommy, while teachers and helpers brought juice, posed for pictures, and cleaned up spills effortlessly. Each mommy was presented with a handmade (by the teacher I’m sure) gift.

365-2592Tonight: “Daddy, daddy, you have to make fire! “

And just like that, my chicken and eggplant menu plan turned into chicken kabobs, and mothers day wrapped up with impromptu “camping” with food cooked over a fire. Their little tent was set up outside, and they carefully supervised as daddy cooked chicken on a stick. They were very disappointed that we could not eat in the tiny tent, but happily munched on camp food cooked over the fire even here at the kitchen table.

Maybe some moms would have been disappointed without cards and gifts and lavish meals out, or even less lavish meals prepared by someone else at home.

But for me, this day again proved why I said “I do” to this guy eleven years ago.  Instead of insisting that he needs to finish the office setup he was deeply involved in completing, he dropped everything because a little boy wanted to camp. “Make fire Daddy!” And he did. Dinner was made; hearts were warmed.   And that is what’s vital this mothers’ day.

The Haul – Farmer’s market style

Today’s haul from the local farmers’ market: Sol 13 for local honey, 4 for the green fruit, 4 for the tomatoes. I don’t remember specifics as I was trying to corral two rowdy boys and remember my Spanish numbers. I think it was about Sol 40 all together. Approximate US$ 14. Not too bad.

Ordinary Days

365-0021We are starting to settle into a rhythm in our days at home.   I try to keep thing at home  slow and peaceful.  Well, as peaceful as it can be with two very energetic and imaginative boys!

The boys are now in school for a couple of hours each day, and that gives me time to catch up on such little tasks as taxes, organizing the house, and blogging.  I enjoy two of those things very much.  The blog is due for a major overhaul, including a foray into self-hosting.  If all goes well, the behind the scenes stuff will be invisible, and the cosmetic stuff will be unobtrusive.

More things I like?  Yes please.  I just got accepted to become a Power of Moms Ambassador!  Those of you who know me know how much I love this organization.  I have been a fan for years, and have learned so much.  As an ambassador, I get to help this “online gathering place for deliberate mothers” grow.  Go check it out, and join Power of Moms (it’s free) so that you can access the great members-only materials they offer.  Just go to  I’ll do a whole post on the Mind Organization for Moms soon!  It is life-changing.

Remember this?  I now have laundry to do every day –  little school uniforms are my favorite.  We also cook every single meal from scratch.  And I mean scratch – if you want frozen vegetables, you better peel, slice, dice, cook and freeze!  Canned tomatoes?  Not a great option here.  While I can’t say I love washing floors, dishes are a sign of a family well fed, right?

The house has been coming together slowly – childproofing installed, little glitches fixed, and the scalding (I mean scalding) water temperature was finally fixed today.  I actually blistered my hand doing dishes! I am also doing 40 bags in 40 days for Lent this year.  One of my favorite bloggers explains it well here.

Next week, another piece will fall in place, as my parents bring the boys’ beloved pup to Peru.  A bonus visit from grandma and grandpa?  We’ll all say “yes please” to more of that!

These ordinary days?  Yep, they are pretty great.

Off to school

ToesThe blog has certainly not reflected how busy we have been around here!  Shortly after moving in, I had to make a few difficult decisions about schools for the boys this year.  The school year here starts in March.  Jack Jr. turns four next week, and that is the starting age of formal schooling here in Peru.

We had very few options, as many schools fill up years in advance, and waiting lists are atrocious.  The American school here will always try to make space for an embassy kid, but it is very far away (and very expensive!)  I really wanted him to have something a little closer to home, and preferable a smaller, more montessori-like school.  My other consideration was spanish.  At the American school, he would have spanish as a second language a few times a week at best, and our hope was that the boys would become fluent in our three years here.

The other option was a “nido”, which is a playgroup/daycare type facility for younger children.  Many of these have phased out the program for four year olds since that age group now goes to schools.  We found one nido that had a program close to our home.  It certainly wasn’t ideal, and I didn’t really like the space much, but some other embassy families used and liked it.  I resigned myself, and bought books (yes, books, for a four and two year old!  For approximately $150!)

At the last minute, we were offered a space for him at another school nearby.  Classes are in english and spanish, and we can walk there.  It is much more structured than I would have liked.  Children get homework, and take exams.  (Again, at four!)  The school supplies lists around here will blow your mind – four tightly spaced typewritten pages with every type of paper – copy paper, toilet paper, tissue paper, to a box of dinosaurs, books, and the inevitable lists of markers, crayons, and pencils.  Shopping for said list without a car, and without spanish has been the bane of my existence since he got in just a few weeks ago.  So far he likes it, and is all smiles at pick up everyday.

Unfortunately, my two year old little guy is now stuck without his brother at nido, and the way he calls for him the whole time is just heartbreaking.  None of his teachers speak any english, so it will be a challenge in the beginning, but emersion is the best way to learn.  (I keep telling myself that when I see their confused little faces.)

While my mommy heart is still not at peace with the decisions we made, we will live with it for the next three years, reevaluating as necessary.  Oh, schooldays.

Do you consider schools when you choose your expat assignments?

Ordinary Days

blog-6557Jack Jr. is really dealing with our recent move a lot differently than I expected.  Yesterday he repeatedly told me that he wanted to “go home” and I told him that home is where we all are together – same as I always do.  It is no longer enough for him.  When I later asked him what he wanted for Christmas (the answer changes daily and is usually good for a laugh) he responded that he wanted a home where we could have his dog.  Ouch.  It just broke my heart for him.  We are in temporary housing (a hotel actually) until my husband’s office finds us a house, and the dog had to stay with my parents for now since we can’t have her in the hotel.

His little heart reflects my own.  Right now, I’m challenged to find the joys in our daily life.   I know in future I’ll look back at this time with only good memories.  (Oh the blessing of selective amnesia – I always remember the good times.  It’s genetic – blame it on my mom who can never remember that she was angry at someone, or had a challenging time.)

Right now, I would give anything for an ordinary day – cooking a meal, cleaning the kitchen, folding my boys’ little shirts and pants, hanging diapers out to dry, maybe a little sewing, a few beautiful books, our carefully selected art on the walls, the messes of toys that mean my boys are playing around.  Coffee with my friends, ordered in a language I can understand.  These things would probably not have made my wish list just six months ago, but it is a stark reminder to be grateful for ordinary days.

As my Spanish improves, we find a home, bring the pup to live with us, and get back into the daily routine of cooking meals, doing laundry, teaching children, and picking up toys, I know ordinary days will return.  I hope I’ll remember to be grateful for the buzzing of the washer and dryer, the clanking of dishes, easy conversations, and the legos underfoot.

PS Great, and timely, essay on Power of Moms about moving and transitions.  Read it here.

The Haul – Lima Style

I found a supermarket today! It is called Vivanda, and what little I saw looked nice. The aisles are super narrow – too narrow for my double umbrella stroller. As a result, Jack jr. Is responsible for most of what you see. I vetoed once or twice, and selected the milk and bleach. As we are still in a hotel room, we really can’t shop much.

As in Egypt, we will wash our produce in a gallon of water with a teaspoon of bleach. This is my small concession to food hygiene as I’m generally not the most careful with the whole cook, peel or forget business. I have eaten salad in restaurants twice now with no ill effects, knock on wood.

Anyways, two avocados, two pears, and a grenadilla will set you back about Sol 5.20. A fresh liter of milk was Sol 4.70. Yikes! The whole haul was Sol 30.90. Fruits and veg seem reasonable, but I find meat and restaurants here to be very expensive.