Saturday, October 30, 2010

Ecuador Vacation, Part 1

We actually started our vacation two days prior to flying to Ecuador.  First was a trip to Tampa where Ken refereed and the girls and I ate in the hotel restaurant and just relaxed.  Unfortunately I got food poisoning from the hotel salad and started our vacation a little green.

The next morning we drove to Naples to go to church and spend the day with Ken's friend Jorge and Jorge's wife Veronica.  Jorge used to be a math professor at NDSU in Fargo, which is how Ken knows him.  We haven't seen Jorge and Veronica since their wedding two years ago.  We went to mass with them Sunday morning, took naps at their townhouse, and then went on a nature hike.  Here are some pictures from our adventures:

Off we go!
The trees form "flying buttresses" at their bases to support them in the moist ground.

Jorge and Veronica, our nature guides

Neat sayings were on the railings of the trail.

Can you see the green heron in this picture?
At the very end of the trail we saw a wild hog with her piglets.  Sorry for the poor resolution; it was dusk and the pig was a ways away.

We spent the night at Jorge and Veronica's and then it was a 2 hour drive down Alligator Alley (quite a disappointment; no alligators) to Miami.

Up next...Quito, Ecuador!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I need a practice room!

I really miss my days as a musician when I could retreat into a little tiny room all by myself and practice my French horn.  Talk about having inner peace.  Practicing gave me time to think and meditate.  Lately I feel like everywhere I go someone is trying to start a battle, and I'm not much of a fighter.  I guess we should have purchased a house with a practice room!

On a side note:  I started to give Meghan some solid food on Tuesday.  This Saturday she will turn 6 months and I usually like to introduce food right around that age.  So far she has tried bananas at home and green beans and cereal at daycare.  She seems to understand the spoon concept, but is always trying to hold it for me!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Counting My Blessings

Note: I wrote this post waaay before we left for vacation, but forgot to post it!  Ooops!

Woohoo!  Today is definitely a day to count blessings!

1. Exercise!  It was workout day #2 for my friend Laura and I.  She drives over to my house at 6AM and then we go work out for about an hour while our husbands and kids sleep.  When I'm getting up that early, it is so wonderful to have a buddy to say "good morning" to.  Thanks, Laura!

2. The Chilean miners have all been rescued.  Ken and I have been watching the event live on-line for the past several days.  It makes me proud to be Chilean.

Oh wait...I guess I just got caught up in the moment.  Honestly, though, the rescue was really heart-warming.

3. Milk!  Meghan is a few weeks shy of 6 months old, and I have been able to pump enough milk for her every day to bring to daycare.  When Camille was this age, I had a dwindling supply and a lot of stress in providing enough for her.  I have so much milk in the freezer right now, I'm running out of space for big people food.  Praise God I am able to completely provide for my daughter without the added stress!

4. A clean desk!  My desk at work is slowly getting more visible as I have gotten caught up on many projects the past few months.  (The physician that usually demands the most of my time has been studying for his boards.  I am sooo thankful for the break!)

5. An understanding boss and husband!  For quite some time, I have felt God calling me to stay home with the kids.  Right now our weekdays consist of whisking them off to daycare at 7:30AM and picking them up at 5:45PM.  By the time we get home, have dinner and take showers, it is time for bed.  This means we only get to see our kids awake for less than 2 hours a day.  I knew something had to change.  Thankfully my boss is going to let me work 2 12 hour days in the office and 3 hours in the very early AM before Ken goes to work.  This means only 2 days of daycare for the kids and I get to stay home with them the rest of the week!  We are sooo looking forward to this change in our lives starting November 1st!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


We welcomed my sister Becky and her good friend Sarah to Florida for a few days.  They thought they were coming for a relaxing weekend.  Here is what we did while they were here.  I'll let you decide if it was really relaxing.

Meghan and I picked Becky and Sarah up at the airport in Orlando and went shopping at IKEA.  I found a cool mirror and lamp and a ton of other bargain items for the house.  Sorry, no pics.  You'll have to come visit to see what I bought.

Next, we went to the outlet mall and bought some warm PJ's for Camille and some soccer shoes for Ken.

We arrived back to Gainesville just in time to kiss Camille goodnight!

We went to the beach in St. Augustine.  We always park right next to the Castillo Real hotel because there are free restrooms and showers and the beach is usually not as busy as the main St. Augustine beach.  It was a beautiful day!

You can click on the pictures to see them larger.


Camille and Aunt Becky

Mommy and Camille

Sarah and Meghan relaxing under the umbrella

Meghan found the sound of the ocean relaxing!

Camille was covered in sand by the time we left.

After the beach, we looked in the little shops around the city and had dinner at the A1A Ale house.  We had a great view of the pier!

In the evening we went to a Greek festival and had some yummy cake with custard.  It was a long day!

We all got up early and brought Camille to soccer practice.  Since Ken was out of town, one of the other dads, Coach Kenney, was in charge.  Camille wasn't interested in playing soccer at first.  A phone pep-talk by daddy seemed to help a little.  Eventually Mommy and Aunt Becky realized Camille was more than happy to chase us up and down the field.  By the end of the hour, Camille was kicking the ball with her teammates and running on her own.

After soccer we took Becky and Sarah around town to see all of the tailgaters for the LSU-UF game.  We also stopped at Sam's to purchase some juicy carrots and apples.

Then, we visited a retired horse farm with our friends, the Kenneys.  Here is a link to a few pictures Lorrie took.  More pictures are yet to come from the horse farm!  Sarah was the only one with a camera so we still need to get the pictures from her.  The retirement home for horses is officially my new favorite activity in Gainesville!  Camille was a little scared to feed the horses at first, but was so disappointed that we ran out of carrots by the end.

After naps, we ended our day with sushi at the Bento cafe with two of Becky's Florida friends.

On Sunday we went to church, picked up a rental car for Becky & Sarah to drive back to Orlando on Monday, shopped at the mall and found a beautiful dress for me to wear in Ecuador and at Becky's wedding, and went to Lake Alice to see the alligators.

One big gator
 Camille refused to nap, so Becky and Sarah took her to the swimming pool late in the afternoon while Meghan and I cooked dinner.  Finally, we went to the bat house at dusk and saw all of the bats disperse across the city.  There were fewer bats than usual, maybe because most of them have flown south for the winter.  What a great way to end a fun weekend!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Cute as a button!

Meghan turned 5 months old on Thursday.  She is such a happy and delightful child.  She seems to have finally outgrown her early-evening fussiness.  Here are a few of her accomplishments so far:  rolling, inch-worm crawl along the floor, rocking on her hands and knees,  crying "mamamama", and of course, just amazing cuteness.  The many faces of Meghan:

Here are a few photos of her trying to crawl.  She can now turn in a full circle and manages to wiggle her way around the room, getting into trouble as she goes.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

I fixed it! For now...

Warning!  No cute kid pictures in this post.  Skip reading if you don't want to know how to fix a breast pump.

When small appliances (blenders, hair dryers, etc.) around the house break, I like to open them up and see if it's something I can fix.  Most of the time, I end up throwing all the parts away and buying a replacement.  I love to see how stuff works. 

Since I started back to work in July, my breast pump has sounded like it was on its last leg.  Apparently the average pump lasts around 1 year regardless of whether you pay $100 or $200 for it. The exception is a hospital grade pump (they cost $1,000-2,000). Those pumps can last for decades.  On Friday the pump was working so poorly that I was fearful I would need to go out and buy a new one before the weekend was over.  It had served me well for a year when Camille was a baby and has now worked hard for a few months with Meghan.  Of course, I had to at least try to fix the pump before I bought a new one.  I am posting this for anyone with a similar pump (Ameda Purely Yours) that is interested in fixing it.

Step 1. Remove the cover.

Here's a picture of what the actual pump looks like.
The piston on the right of this picture (blue & black) is covered with a clear case that is not supposed to move away from the cream colored motor on the left.  Unfortunately, it is held by some very cheaply made clear clips.  You can see one such clip in this photo immediately behind the black and red wires.  There should be clips all around the clear case, but most of the clips on my pump have broken off and were rattling around inside the pump's outer cream shell.  The result of this was that I would frequently have to manually hold the clear case against cream pump shell where the tubing connects.  I would also need to turn the pump up to maximum suction to get it to work, and then dial the suction down periodically so I didn't tear any skin.  (I know, it's a terrible thought.)

Note:  the white residue in the clear piston case is actually grease, not milk.  The Ameda Purely Yours has a special hygienic system to prevent milk from traveling through the tubing into the motor.  This is actually the main reason why I chose to buy this pump.
Step 2. Push the clear piston case flush against the cream motor casing. 

Here is a visual of my quick fix.  I used duct tape to secure the clear piston case to the motor case.  Then, I stabilized the clear piston case by looping a rubber band around the peg holding the electrical board and the other end around the piston case.  You can see the broken clear clips laying on the counter next to the pump.

Here's a close-up of the duct tape and rubber band.  My only concern is that the rubber band puts too much pressure on the peg holding the electrical board and may cause it to snap.  We'll see how long this lasts.
Step 3. Put the cover back on the pump.
Here's the pump re-assemble.  It looks good as new and works wonderfully!

Soccer Progress

Camille is now in the midst of soccer season.  Their first game went well.  Camille missed soccer last week because we were out of town.  Today I had to serve breakfast at a local restaurant as a fundraiser for SAI.  Meghan tagged along and was doted on by all the other ladies.  Meanwhile, Camille and Ken were off to soccer practice.  Meghan and I caught the last few minutes of Camille's soccer game.  When we arrived, only 2 kids from our team and at least 4 kids from the other team were on the field.  Apparently our kids didn't feel much like playing today.  Oh well, we'll try again next week!  Here are some cute pictures of the team from a few weeks ago.

Had to get the coach in one! (in the green t-shirt)

Music to Our Ears!

After casually mentioning at an SAI meeting that I was looking for a piano, one of our newest transfers remarked that she had to put her piano in storage because it couldn't be moved into her 3rd floor apartment.  Soooo...long story short...two weeks ago we hooked a uhaul trailer up behind Ken's VW Jetta and moved the piano across town and into our house with the help of 7 fabulous men!

Our amazing friends:
Thank you Nick, Gabe, Ken, Tristan, Francisco, Jason, and Anders!

Of course the girls and I had to try the piano right away!