January 2010

Our first full weekend in BA turned out to be like our weekends in America, busy.  Friday and Saturday were spent attempting to purchase items for the house.  Why oh Why? did I not ship more household items.  It is extremely difficult to find furnishings, clothing, linens etc. of the same quality we have in the US.

In my opinion the Argentine priority list goes something like this;

(1).  Be constantly irritated at the government for taking half of my tiny pay for their own self indulgence, then concentrate on me and me alone while maintaining my stunningly beautiful appearance

(2).  After getting my beauty rest, wake up late and groom my beautiful hair then enjoy a relaxing morning with my cafe eventually arriving at work around 9:30

(3). Call friends at 10:15 to make plans for lunch at 11:30

(4).  Take a two hour lunch eating excessive amounts of carbohydrates while still maintaining my fabulous figure

(5).  Work until 6:30ish where I will go home for 1 hour before meeting friends for dinner out

(6).  Write a mean note to the maid for not ironing my cloths correctly

(7). Finally turn in early at midnight and start all over again the next morning.

My first impression is the Argentine culture focuses on themselves rather than others or their personal property.  So for us Americans obsessed with personal property, I am lost!  I called a driver on Saturday to drop me off at the Jumbo, pronounced “June Bo”, I spent 3.5 hours at the grocery trying to familiarize myself with their food and their packaging before Doug and the girls came to rescue me.  I must say despite the aggressive cart driving, I enjoyed this time very much! It was so interesting and we are all enjoying tasting new things.  Things we will have to live without include cheddar cheese and chocolate chip cookies.  Everything else we can find, it just may not be exactly the same and that is ok.

We live very close to the San Isidro Station, which is a huge tourist attraction, the buses drop of tons of Americans and I love waiving to them on the bus.  It is cool to live next to this major tourist spot, there are lots of craft booths, music etc.  We walked down on Saturday and enjoyed a great pizza outdoors and continue to try and work our way through the language.  Doug has been to enough restaurants during his time here that we can manage, but it is not pretty.  One thing Doug is very good at, is knowing his way around.  In Colorado a few weeks after our arrival, I could navigate very well the northern Denver suburbs and Boulder.  I am not sure I will ever master this city.  Some of the streets are over 300 years old and it is a one way maze of tiny streets that merge with millions of other streets, it is very scary.  If I were to get lost, that could be very dangerous.  I have a GPS but she does not speak English and it is tough to follow.  My driving, when I start, will include driving to the school and back, nothing else.  We made our way to our church on Sunday and everyone was very happy to finally see us.  It is such a tight American community and everyone is so friendly.  We had a pool party at our house on Sunday and I put out my best Argentine spread! Three families from church came over along with another family in our neighborhood.  It was very comfortable and I felt like I knew these people for longer than a day.  When you are all in the same situation you have a quick connection.  I am already over scheduled with a neighborhood bible study, The BAIN club, “Buenos Aires International Newcomers”, tennis in a few weeks and who knows what awaits me once school starts.

This week is busy with vacation bible school in the morning and Lincoln School camp in the afternoon.  The poor remise (my driver) tries to talk to me every day, just hoping I have made an effort to learn some Spanish… I will, just give me a minute to get settled!  I am trying to enjoy BA for all its uniqueness and we are not complaining about the vast differences but we do point them out.  The one that annoys us the most is the trash situation.  We will watch Argentine kids buy ice cream take off the wrappers and drop them to the ground.  You should see Lauryn’s jaw drop!  After coming from a Colorado school were they spent weeks studying planet earth, and recycling, I thought she was going to cry.  Doug explains to us that when they drop trash on the ground, they view it as creating a job.  It is a socialist mentality, however where is the guy picking up the trash, because he is not doing his job. Being the strong Republican that I am, I tell him it is not socialism, it is lazy-ism.  Thankfully in our neighborhood they pick up trash everyday and the streets are immaculate; outside the gates not so much.

We were so happy to see the Colts on our Argentine Direct TV, we lucked out an got American announcers during the Colts game, however the Minnesota Saints game was in espanol, so  we understand blah blah,…..Reggie Bush…blah, blah………Brett Farve.  We had been watching American idol on our sling box, but the girls found out through their channel surfing research that American Fox stations air their programming here.  It was nice to give our x-pat companions this news, they were grateful for the info.   Saturday night we stayed up too late watching back to back episodes of last week’s American Idol and we understand we will be able to see all the Glee episodes, this is exceptional news to the girls.

Lyndsey was off at camp today and was her chatty self all the way to the school.  Lauryn appears to have a small fever or I think she may be suffering from excessive heat and over stimulization. Either way she is lying in bed with Tug watching movies.

Love you all lots, Skype us.


Buenos Aires is treating us well so far! I remember warning myself that the first few days would be very difficult and that I just need to get through it.  I don’t know if all the time we had for preparation made our transition easier, or if it just gets easier every time you move, but day four into our life in Buenos Aires and I am missing my friends and family, but am enjoying our low key lifestyle. It’s interesting to me that every time it comes down to the day of the move, I would do anything in the world to stay right where I am at.  But after each move, I realize how foolish I was to think that way and despite my fears, change can be good!  Step one for me with any new move is telling myself to stop trying to find the similarities, recognize that this place I am in is very different and I need to appreciate the differences and enjoy them.  I had to remind myself of this a lot today. For example the trash pickup comes every day in a little basket in front of the house.  I should stop questioning why and just put the trash out every day.  Trying to buy my typical American groceries is so expensive so I will need to try and eat like the Agentines and learn something new.  Since juice is ridiculously expensive here,  I will do like the Argentines and buy a juicer and make my own fresh with half the sugar.

The girls appear to have the “make the most of your new situation down”.  However, Lyndsey likes to make her case a little before jumping on the band wagon.  For example the girls started summer camp yesterday at their school so we started our morning with Lyndsey proclaiming in a very loud voice that she was not going anywhere.  After finally getting out the door we made our drive to the school.  I told Doug as we stood outside the gym that I felt horrible for Lyndsey and I was going to take her out of the camp when she was done with the day.  Lyndsey continued to give us dirty looks from across the gym, and as I was not yet comfortable leaving, so I made my way to the office to read my book and Doug headed to work.  As usual I agonized over Lyndsey while Lauryn appeared to be having the time of her life.  After a good jet lag recovery snooze in the office, I made my way to the gym, and oddly Lyndsey was not giving me the look and Lauryn had a big smile.  In answer to our question “how was your day”? Lyndsey said “good”.  This is of course 6th grade translation for “I really liked it”, because if she even remotely did not like it, we would have heard about it.  I told her I went ahead an un-enrolled her since she was so upset in the morning.  This caused yet another loud reaction and when I told her I was joking this lead to a big discussion on relaxing and giving things a try before we freak out.  After one day at school she decided she would go to the 6th grade event at the school that evening, where they walked to the bowling alley, had a bonfire and slept overnight.  When hearing about this, I announced in the car that I was not ready for this and that Lyndsey would NOT be going which then resulted in dirty looks from Doug. I got a lot of dirty looks that day.  Lyndsey went and had a blast.  For the record I do not know a lot of kids who would do that, Lyndsey has gained much adaptability with her moving experiences and makes friends easily.

Lyndsey’s camp counselors speak 100% Spanish throughout the camp so that the kids can get lots of practice.   The 6th grade students Lyndsey is with are completely bilingual and translate for Lyndsey throughout the day.  Much of these children also speak German.  We are all feeling a little….foolish amongst this new community not knowing at least Spanish. When Lyndsey starts school she will be in a beginner Spanish class with about 4 other middle school students, I am not sure how it will work with Lauryn in elementary.   Meanwhile, I have to get going on my own Spanish instruction, this is getting ridiculous.  I start with the tutor next week. I just feel stupid not being able to communicate.

My new best friend is Alejandra; however we play mostly charades in effort to communicate. I have given her the title of peacemaker not a house cleaner, a clean home puts me at peace.  Most of my neighbors have an Alejandra living with them 24/7.  These neighbors can also communicate with their Alejandra.  The Argentines enjoy life and relax often with family and friends.  Kids are not shuffled from activity to activity; they participate in conversation and also learn to relax at a young age.  I am sure we will continue our intense schedule when we arrive back in the states but for now we will enjoy this beautiful break!  The girls have been in the pool at every opportunity and Lauryn is giving a water aerobics class tomorrow afternoon if anyone would like to attend.  In addition chef Lauryn has embraced the Argentine food and made for us last night a red pepper with cheese and ground pepper appetizer that included her own lemon sauce made from fresh lemons.  Someone call the food network.  I reunited with some of the moms from my first trip at that school today and will be going to the grocery store with one of the gals next week.  She is the mother of three picky eaters and has the skinny on all the American product hot spots.  I will be participating as a teacher next week during our churches vacation bible school and have already been invited to a ladies only pool party.  I hope there is a slide and water guns. We have lots of church activities this weekend and we are looking for tennis opportunities.  All in all, we are doing ok so far.  I miss my outdoor mall that was 55 seconds from my door.  Shopping is proving to be very difficult here.  Of course not being able to communicate does not help; I will keep working at it.  I do think when school starts life will be a little more hectic again, but with activities provided after school; this should be a nice break from my life in the car.  We will head to the “rink” in a few weeks and get the girls on the “so called ice” so they can keep working on their jumps and if they want they will skate a lot in Colorado over the summer.  The girls appear happy and relaxed and today they are exhausted from camp and the time adjustment.  Lauryn also had a friend over today to swim.  Natalie lives a few houses down and is from Missouri, her dad is here working as an attorney and they have SIX children.  Can you imagine their airport stories?  Doug is relieved that Lyndsey liked camp and I told him to not get too excited until she starts school. But for now there is a lot of laughter and I pray it continues.

Once we get this house in order we will post some pictures.

Lots of love, and we appreciate your prayers.

We have finally arrived and our heads are spinning.  We made it into Buenos Aires Monday morning and were able to get through customs with little effort however our total travel experience was not without issue.  We got off to turbulent start with the driver showing up with a car unable to accommodate our “9” pieces of luggage.  Already running late we had to be on our way and when the driver could not find a solution my neighbors saved the day and we rode with the Borchlewicz to the airport while our driver followed with our luggage.  Once we made it to the ticket counter we had a representative with some attitude who felt the constant need to tell us how much luggage we had.  Of course she was dealing with the wrong gal on the wrong day and we had words as you can imagine.  Off we went to the security line with overflowing backpacks, a guitar, and webkinz in tow and by the time we finished pulling off boots, coats, and getting our laptops etc. into the buckets,  I commented to the security guard that we are great entertainment and he confirmed we were the best he had seen all day.

We landed in DC on time and had an uneventful flight.  Lyndsey begged us to turn the plane around and we both had tears in our eyes as we said goodbye to the mountains for a while.  How great it was to have a long layover in DC that allowed the girls to spend time with their grandparents and cousin.  We then loaded onto the plane at 9:30pm and continued our exceptional ability to make a scene wherever we go. By the time I was through a total of 6 people changed seats so I could be right next to my girlies. In my defense this was supposed to have already been determined, I blame the ticket rep in Denver.  Lauryn was lights out right after dinner and Lyndsey and I stayed up most of the night watching movie after movie.  BTW for those growing up with Michael Jackson in the 70’s and 80’s this is very good flick!  When I finally did fall asleep I woke up late and quickly needed to get my information together for customs along with all the forms they require you to fill out on the plane.  We had a longer time than most in customs as we needed to present our visa documentation. The girls were practically lying on the floor with exhaustion by the time we were done and we were finally approved to enter the county.  We sprinted to the baggage claim and found that our “9” pieces of luggage was most likely on its last round before going to auction.  I practically jumped on the luggage carousal and grabbed our luggage only to find there were no carts and no one willing to help me find one.  The girls stood on their own guarding “9” pieces of luggage and 6 carry ons’ while I desperately searched the area for a cart. I came across an abandoned cart and soon found out why as it was barely operational.  I finally found an Argentine airport worker to assist me and he eventually started walking away after having to work too hard to get our luggage to the customs screening area.  Sensing I was losing the only many willing to help, I flashed 10 US dollars   (about 40 pesos) and he was once again back to work for the Parker family. Curiously as we got to the luggage screening area, they looked at our pile of luggage and waived us through.  Living in fear that I would be in national headlines for a security breech, I attempted to ask the security personnel no less than 10 times if they needed to scan my luggage.  After my last attempt I told the girls, let’s go for it! We walked through the gates and I could see Doug but he could not yet see us.  I have to say I will never forget his expression.  When he finally saw Lyndsey, his face lit up and he started jumping up and down so we could see him amongst the sea of people.  He busted through the crowd and came running out to greet us.  My over paid steward quickly left as soon as Doug was on the scene and after we were done with our big  greeting we looked up and saw everyone staring at the crazy Americano’s with their “9” pieces of luggage and 6 carry ons.  I thought I would collapse when we finally got to the house. Doug made us a great lunch and we ate at the pool the girls were swimming and in a great mood.  Although when we were taking off for BA Lyndsey was once again begging to turn the plan around, and my heart was breaking.   The weather is hot and humid and I love it! It feels so good to be in the heat. Tug is getting use to the new climate and can hardly keep up with all the birds and sounds they make throughout the day.  I sat in the backyard for about an hour just feeling the heat and all these exotic sounds I had never heard before.  Funny how on our first trip I was so critical of everything, I complained about everything …”this is not anything like America”, “I don’t like this or that”, and now I found myself less critical and just taking it for what it is.  Summer in BA is very nice.  Doug’s assistant came over and spent a few hours with us going over some items with me and working with “Fibertel” reps to identify proper IP numbers in order to connect to Wi-FI . We NEVER could have done this on our own, Fibertel is 100% Spanish speaking and no English translation options. The TV and phones etc., are all working thanks to Doug and this has made our move a little less stressful!  We went last night to our favorite authentic Argentine restaurant “Kansas”.  As you can imagine they specialize in amazing American cuisine and we love it! Huge meal and drinks for all for about 60 USD with exceptional service and 10% tipping.  Come on down and enjoy.  The wait staff is very friendly and they try very hard to communicate with us.  It does not make me angry or sad I cannot tell the waiter I want my dressing on the side, it motivates me.  I am starting my tutor in a few weeks and I plan to start with learning to communicate in the streets.  I do not need to start out learning everything just the priorities to begin with.  Today we get the house in order and Wednesday the girls head to The Lincoln School Summer camp.  Lyndsey is thrilled…not! I will let you know how her first day goes.

We are available for skyping most anytime- and we are hoping to get Vonage connected this week- which means you can call us from the U.S. for the same cost it would cost you to call us in Colorado.

Keep the prayers coming.

La Boca

Happy New Year!

It is January 2nd, 2010 which can only mean one thing, our focus has moved from Christmas and New Years’ to finalizing the details of our move to Buenos Aires.  We spent some wonderful time with family and friends over the holidays and with all the love and support I am feeling more and more at peace with our move and even a slight twinge of excitement.  Lyndsey continues to be in denial and there is no doubt the day we leave the house and board the plane there will be many tears.  However we feel very blessed to be able to provide the girls with this opportunity and feel strongly that they will benefit immeasurably from this experience.

Tug and Doug will be leaving for BA next week and the girls and I will follow close behind.  Getting Tug into Argentina is proving to be just as difficult as our Visa process.  Tug under went his examination for his certificate of health this week and we are happy to announce he has been approved for travel to Argentina.  For safe measure we will be heading to downtown Denver where we will have the state veterinarian officially sign his certificate of health.  Our experience with the Argentine government has shown us the more documentation the better.  Tug currently has a reservation to fly in the cabin with Doug, however we have been advised that all this can change on a whim.  We pray that he can travel with Doug and will not experience too much culture shock.   Tug and I have made plans to Skype daily and I hope he understands the girls and I are coming soon.  It will no doubt take him a while to bounce back from his international travel experience, but we think he will appreciate the warmer weather and an occasional dip in the pool.  Tug will not be coming back until the end of our assignment as the plane travel is just too difficult.  I am sure he is ok with that.

The girls are schedule to participate in an amazing summer camp at the Lincoln school the week after we arrive.  You check out the link for the girls summer camp listed under my links or at http://www.lincoln.edu.ar/sports/Summer%20Camp%202009_0001.wmv.  We are hoping they will meet some friends in a fun setting before the first official day of school on February first.  Doug has a full schedule lined up for us when we arrive and I am looking forward to getting our house in order.  Doug has done a ton of work getting all the necessities including appliances, beds, internet, cable, security etc.   I look forward to filling my days initially on getting the girls acclimated with school and their activities and making our new house a home.  We shipped all the furniture from our basement and I am wondering if I will like my old basement furnishing any better in this new house, probably not.  The girls will be happy to know they can now eat, drink, and jump on the couch, something they have not been allowed to do in their previous homes.  This furniture will not be making its way back to Colorado; it has reached its final destination!  After we are good and settled step one is to learn how to navigate the grocery store on my own and improve my tennis game.  I will need to at least learn the Spanish translation for managing these tasks.  I am hoping to learn much more than that but we will start slow.

The next few weeks will be filled with much preparation and tears for sure.  When we walk into our new home in Argentina I will no doubt feel relieved to have arrived but also overwhelmed with anxiety and a strong desire for my familiar life and friends in Colorado.  This overwhelming feeling is one we have felt before, and we know that it will persist for many days, but eventually it will subside and we will begin to embrace and enjoy our new surroundings.

Remember to keep us in your prayers.