Bubbles! from Zach Vander Veen on Vimeo.


Espera! Espera!

I’m trying to think of words – what with our limited vocabulary – that we keep saying. One is “espera”. These girls are all energy (as kids often are) and we seem to tell them to wait for their Mami and Papi to catch up. Communication is so key. Thank God we’ve Spanish skills.

Yesterday was complete fun. We’re finally getting a bit of a schedule down. It goes something like this:

  • 6:30 or 7ish, wake up (the girls are fantastic sleepers). Cuddle together in bed for 20 minutes or so. Monica takes everything in right away. She’s processing the cuddles. Kelly Jo is pretty much confused. We can tell she’s finally awake when she starts laughing.
  • 7-8 work on getting out the door for a ridiculously expensive breakfast at the hotel. The girls love poached eggs – slurping them down as quick as can be. We joke, bribe, mime for 5 minutes to get them to eat some bread. (Ren and I eat all our food in about 3 minutes…we’re working on trying to get them to slow down so we can have time to chew.)
  • 9-10:30 play time! This usually involves jump rope, bubbles, Papi chasing the girls into Mami’s arms over and over, a dozen trips to the bathroom, piggyback rides, dancing, and some coloring books.
  • 10:30 La Piscina (another phrase that’s said every 5 minutes!). Finally we get to the pool. For an hour we play hard. Monica loves to hold her breath and to actually swim (albeit in a life tube). Kelly loves to throw herself into Papi’s arms (she also likes a cool superman version called “super kelly” where she gets lifted into the air and flies).
  • 12ish we head to the supermarket. On the second floor is a playpin for kids. They run around for a 1/2 hour or so. Right next to it is a cafeteria where we eat lunch. This is always an adventure and one we’ve had to change. Right now I go and buy the food (no more asking the girls…that really gets us nowhere) and set up the table (making sure to find a table with a wall on one end). Then we place the girls between us and the wall and proceed to watch Kelly eat just about everything and Monica turn lunch into a game of economics. They leave well fed (and we’re usually still chewing our food).
  • Then it’s resting time. Every day the girls have clunked out pretty consistently around 1:30. It’s pretty funny. They’ll go from 100 mph to dead sleep in, like, 15 seconds. Maybe this is normal for kids.
  • 2:30ish we wake up. Again there’s some hatchout time. More coloring, role play (both girls love to role play), bubbles, perhaps a few minutes of a DVD. We drink a yogurt, maybe some juice and crackers.
  • 4:00 La Piscina! Swim hard again. The suns usually starting to go down (around 5) so the pool is in the shade. Ren puts up a good fight even though she’s all goosebumps for the entire time. The girls usually get cold enough they want to leave after an hour or so. We’re walking raisins.
  • 5:30-6:30ish Bath time. They’re ratons de agua. Oh how they love the water. Bath time is crazy! After the first day everything was covered in water. We’ve gotten better at keeping it in the tub. After bathing we put lotion. The girls, Monica in particular, have dry skin (especially around the face).
  • 7:30 is supper on the floor. Sandwiches, potato chips, fruit, a yogurt, but no juice. We learned that the hard the first night. Juice is fuel for the fire.
  • 8:30 is cuddle/settle down. Asleep usually by 9.

Not a bad routine.

We’ve passed the proverbial day 3 when “true” personalities come out. It hasn’t been so bad. Both girls have started to push boundries. Monica, in particular, pushes and then pushes harder. We’ve had a number of time-ins on the chair. This is where the language gets to be difficult. You really want them to understand why you’re doing things. It breaks our hearts to see little Monica wail away, but fortunately it doesn’t go on for very long. She really wants to be the boss!

Our lawyer stopped by on Thursday and this completely freaked Monica out. She was terrified that we were going to leave her. It took a lot of caresses and hugs to settle her down. And the la piscina. There’s always the piscina!

We love them so much. The lawyer doesn’t seem to think we’ll have any problems come Monday (when we have the intagracion). We meet with the social worker at 11:00. The lawyer will start the paperwork right away. She said to pray that we don’t get Court 4 (which is notorious for being slow).


this internet thing

what´s the Ted Steven´s quote? It´s a series of tubes?

Anyway – we´re having internet issues at the hotel for family who are probably wondering what happened. Be assured all is incredibly well. We are all having a huge amount of fun. Just being family.

Hopefully we´ll get the internet fixed soon!


y lava los manos

The girls like to wash their hands. Which is good because we all drink a lot of water in the heat. For that matter, there’s an all around love of water (coming from whatever source) that gets them excited. Good thing we’ve marble floors – it’s easy to clean up.

I’m two days into this papi thing and I’m loving it. I have to say it was a brilliant idea to put us in a hotel with a pool. Talk about a crash course in family bonding. Skin on skin. Lots of “Mira Papi/Mami” and directions given that, when followed, helps build trust. And lots and lots of laughter.

I know we’re only at the start, but it’s been fun to begin to understand the girls personalities. They’re definitely a pair – always looking out for each other.  Both girls love to be held. Criss cross applesauce is a huge favorite. It’s also the first words they’ve learned in English. Go figure.

Monica was timid at first. It took a while to get used to us. When the shyness fades she gets bossy and laughs, loudly, and talks to all of us, loudly, with big teeth smiles. She’s beautiful…I adore her smiles. She’s definitely more cautious. In the pool she always wants to be holding on to one of us (usually momi – although she likes to show off for me). She can hold her breath for a freakishly long time and likes us to count while she, essentially, dips the front of her face into the pool. She likes to help out with things (cleaning, putting together food, etc). Praise and loving comments seem to go a long way with Monica. When she does something wrong (like calling her papi “feo” last night) and gets caught she crosses her arms, frowns, and sulks for 3 minutes or so. Then, on with life.

Kelly Jo is fearless. She pretty much always has a smile on her face. This morning she was the spitting image of Renee – confused, dazed, and maybe not quite ready for the day…yet. In the pool she’ll jump off the shallow area in the deep just expecting her Papi will be there to catch her. She seems to me pretty gregarious. She’s missing her front teeth which actually makes her all the more cute. She’ll pretty much eats anything in front of her (Monica’s a bit hit and miss). We’ve had one  meltdown with her (and boy, I never knew how much heat was generated with a temper tantrum!), but afterwards she’s none the worse for wear.

So now it’s play together as a family. I’ll be honest, just passing the days waiting made me a bit nervous. What were we going to do? But bubbles can occupy enourmous amounts of time. And 2 90 minute jaunts to the pool burns energy like no tomorrow.

Food is probably the most awkward thing we’ve encountered. Our hotel restaurant is crazy expensive, so we can’t eat here 3 times a day. Fortunately there are a ton of supermarkets near the hotel. It’s taking a while to figure out how this works with the girls. More than anything else I wish I had a kitchen (is that weird?). I’ve a feeling Monica will love to help out with the cooking (sorry if that sounds like a stereotype – but she loves to help).

Alright. That’s all for today. Ren’s telling me I need to make a TP run and get some wool lite. Sounds like a new adventure.


Various Observations

Ren’s unpacking at the moment (hiding all the various gifts that need to stretch out the month) and I thought I’d post some random observations, happenings, and musings.

Airport days are just odd. Take the fact that you only get to use plastic knifes in the restaurants. This means you can calmly be cutting your hamburger and, given the right combination of angle and heft, can snap the knife so perfectly that it flicks a spray of ketchup on your “hi I’m your new dad” shirt.

Baggage compartments are dangerous. When we arrived in Bogota, the lady in the seat ahead of me opened her bin and dropped a suitcase on my head. Without missing a beat, someone in behind me exclaimed “welcome to Colombia!”

Colombians are pretty easy to understand! No eating of their words. Plus most of them get really excited when they hear why you’re here and use fun latin based adjectives (which are also easy to understand).

Ren’s rocking the Spanish. She’s fearless…walks right into any conversation. It’s awesome.

Chris and Mary are fantastic. This evening Mary was the adventurous one with the food (she ordered this interesting Colombian tamale). The rest of us went with boring (but safe) chicken and rice.

Bogota probably has one of the best climates in the world. Neiva reminds me of west Texas.