Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Quito, Day 4, Part 1, Thursday, October 21st

I am so thankful that my mom, the travel agent, taught me to keep a journal while traveling.  It has taken me a long time to write about our Quito adventure.  Hopefully my blogs will be a nice reminder to the kids of our great trip!

Our friend Andres arranged to have his cousin Sebastian, an aspiring tour guide, show us around the historic area of Quito. 

Meghan, the tourist, plans our day.

Below are pictures of a church with gargoyles.  The gargoyles are actually animals native to Ecuador. In the second photo, if you look carefully, you can see tortoises.  The Galapagos Islands are the property of Ecuador and are known for their large tortoises.

The streets of colonial Quito are narrow and quite steep.

When the Spaniards moved into South America, they chose Quito as their capital and named it San Francisco de Quito.  Quickly several religious orders moved into the city and built convents and monasteries.  Our first stop was the Monastery of Nuestra Senora de la Merced (our lady of mercy). 

This spacious courtyard had a fountain with a statue of Neptune.

Amazingly, the walls of this courtyard held many paintings, all protected by only a single sheet of glass.  The paintings were barely protected from the elements.  Quito has an arid climate, which prevents the artwork from being damaged.

As I was writing this blog, I discovered a little secret I had captured in the picture below.  Look at the reflection in the glass.  This shows the beauty of the Quito landscape.

We met the priest as he was walking the long hallway.

In an old city like Quito, we never would have seen anything if we had not carried our kids on our backs.  Strollers are useless in a place with so many stairs.  Also, the kids stay very content and safe when attached to Ken and I.  Below you can see Camille in her special back-pack carrier.  Thankfully at age 3 1/2 she still weighs less than 30 lbs.

Quito is full of al fresco paintings.

On the way to the next church, we passed a stand with software.  Ken found some usually-expensive software SPSS he uses at work for under $10.

We also saw some schoolchildren walking down the street.  They were so cute in their matching uniforms!

Our next stop was the Convent of Saint Augustine.

As we were climbing the stairs of the convent, Camille looked at one of the enormous paintings on the wall and exclaimed, "there's my guardian angel!"  This was very exciting for Ken and nearly moved me to tears.  Camille was very specific and just knew that one of the cherubs in the picture below belonged to her.
Along the long hallway of the convent, we saw more al fresco slowly being revealed beneath the paint.
Senor Sebastian then had us climb these stairs. Once again, thank goodness we were not pushing a stroller!

And Ta Da!  At the top of the stairs, we stepped out of the roof of the Iglesia de San Agustin to the most amazing view of Quito!

Here we are on the roof.  The weather was a little windy!

Don't look down!

As we sat on the rooftop, Sebastian pointed out the various landmarks of Quito and shared their history.  I would like to say I learned a lot, but really all I was thinking was, "Oh. My. Gosh!  I am sitting on the rooftop of an ancient church in QUITO!"

Once we came to our senses, we climbed EVEN HIGHER to the bell tower.

Here is a distant view of the Quito Virgin from the bell tower.

Eventually, we did climb down and toured the convent.  The Convent de San Agustin includes a Chapter Room containing an exquisite altar and wood seats that are beautifully carved.  The Act of Independence (from Spain) was signed in this room on August 16, 1809 and is on display there.  Reportedly the remains of men who signed the Act of Independence are buried in the tombs behind the altarpiece.  No one is allowed to take pictures in this Chapter room and the one below is the only one I could find on the internet.
81969645, DEA / G. COZZI /De Agostini Picture Library

The Act of Independence is in the Chapter Room opposite the altar shown above.
Adjacent to the convent is the Museum of Miguel de Santiago.  Santiago spent much of his life in the Convent of San Agustin painting the life of Saint Augustine.  I was in awe of the artwork in this museum as much of it used brilliant reds and a lot of gold and was quite graphic.  In the museum, stairs along one wall led to a separate room.  I was curious about this room and asked if we could go in.  The contents of this room took my breath away!
This statue of Christ is life-sized and carved out of one piece of wood.  Reportedly people venerate the statue on Good Friday and several miracles have been attributed to touching this.

I have decided to break up this day into several parts to keep the blog posts brief.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Simple Woman's Daybook


Outside my window...the sun is shining and it is warm out!!!

I am thinking...I will purchase a camera this week.  Several times a day I miss having a camera to capture the growth of these two cuties.  For some reason I had a feeling that cupid would arrive with to I go!
I am thankful for...the diverse backgrounds our friends come from.  This past weekend we went to a benefit dinner for the Catholic crisis pregnancy center, A Woman's Answer, on Friday with our fabulous Catholic friends, a Chinese New Year party on Saturday at Ken's friend's house, and enjoyed ceviche for dinner with some of our Ecuadorian friends on Sunday.

From the learning rooms...I am happy to announce that after a LOT of work Camille can finally write/spell her name!  Her hardwork will be appearing soon in some of your mailboxes.

From the kitchen...breaded chicken with rice, green beans, and crescent rolls for dinner.  Yum!  I am working on emptying the pantry.

I am creating...some cloth napkins.  I purchased a sewing machine on Black Friday that works pretty well, so I have mended quite a few articles of clothing and am working on some dinner and cocktail napkins in a fun Florida print.

I am going...a little bit crazy trying to finalize the data for my thesis.  Two mentors are not better than one.

I am reading...scholarly articles for the background portion of my thesis.  Each article is one step closer to graduation!

I am hoping...our house sells quickly.  The house has already been listed by the realtor.  A quick home sale would be an enormous blessing for us right now.  We will be praying that St. Joseph intercedes on our behalf.

I am hearing...the girls playing on the porch.  With the house for sale, I have quarantined their toys to the porch.

Around the house...everything is tidy and hidden away in closets.  Now I have to clean the closets!

One of my favorite things...going to work at 5AM.  I accomplish so much work before everyone else arrives, and I love the peacefulness of my office.

A few plans for the rest of the week: I am taking a few computer classes at work to learn the finer points of a new reference program I would like to use.  I would also like to finish the cloth napkins I started making.  Hopefully this week will be less stressful than the last few have been.  Both Ken and I could use a break!

Here is a picture for thought I am sharing...Ken and Camille are putting water into Ken's Dad's electric bird bath!  (This photo is from our visit at Christmas.)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

FAQ's About The Move

Are you really moving?
Yes, Ken has taken a job as a biostatistician at the Minnapolis Medical Research Foundation.

What will you do there?
Initially I will stay home with the kids, finish writing my thesis, and help everyone adjust to this big change.  Ken and I will be starting our own consulting business called Lamb Consulting.  (Clever name, wouldn't you say?)  He will continue his statistical consulting and I hope to grow a client base for scientific editing.

What is scientific editing?
Researchers write manuscripts.  I proof read and re-write them for better read-ability, flow, and of course, grammar.  I also want to help researchers design their experiments.  I did a lot of this in Florida and really enjoyed it.

Weren't you doing a Master's at UF?
I have completed all of my coursework.  I will write my thesis in the coming months and hopefully defend the thesis in time for graduation in August.

Didn't you just buy a house?
We bought a new house, which we love, a year ago.  At that time, we didn't know God had this other plan for us.  As of tomorrow, our house will be for sale.  Prayers ascending to St. Joseph.

Why are you leaving?  Were you unhappy in Florida?
We were actually quite happy living in Florida.  Ken and I both have great jobs that we love here and the weather is outstanding.  However, the education system in the Midwest is very good and living so far away from our families is really not the best way to raise kids.  After much deliberation, we feel this move is best for our children.  (Yes, we're blaming it on the kids.)

Do you already have a place to live in Minnesota?
My grandmother has graciously offered to let us live in her basement until we get settled, sell our Florida home, and buy a house.

Do the kids know?
Camille is well aware that we will be moving closer to her cousins Mia, Grace and Abby.  I don't think she realizes that it will be longer than the usual visits.

Meghan, of course, has no clue.  I am actually quite concerned about the effect of the move on her.  She is having some (hopefully) minor medical issues that require immediate attention.  She has lost weight again and has only gained 1 lb in the last 5 months.  She also requires surgery for a blocked tear duct.  Upon arrival in MN we will immediately be contacting specialists to deal with both issues.

Are you excited?
YES and no.  I am so excited to be living near have family watch my kids so I can go on a date with my see that special bond develop between my kids and their drop my children off at school and know that they will get a decent attend a Catholic church that actually lives the get to play hockey! 

I have made some of the best friends of my life here in Florida...wonderful Catholic women that raise their children the same way I choose to raise mine...that go out of their way to be kind to eachother...that actually pick up the phone and call me "just because they haven't heard from me in a few days"...the type of friends that I have always searched for.  I will miss them dearly, but Gainesville is a town of transients and most of these friends will likely be moving on in the future, too.

I am very nervous about the winters.  I experienced extreme seasonal depression in North Dakota which was completely cured by living in sunny Florida.  Ken has promised me that I can join a gym and install skylights in every room in our new house :-)  Let's hope that works or I will be back in Florida before we know it. 

Will you keep blogging?
Of course!  I think it's fun.  Plus, I haven't finished my posts about our fabulous trip to Ecuador!