Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Cousins

A couple of days ago (before Christmas) we got a chance to go check out Paola’s younger brothers new house.  They had just moved into that house in the last couple of days, and we went to kick it old school!


Xavier and Sophia


Xavier is Paola’s younger brother.  Lucy is Xavier’s wife.  They have two lovely daughters, Maria Daniela and Maria Paola. 


Kids and Cousins


We are lucky because the kids all get along really well... like roaming packs of wild gangs from the Bronx.  They play for hours and barely destroy any furniture... well at least not the easily replaced ones...  Luckily, Xavier and Lucy are still moving in with all their stuff, so there are less things for the kids to destroy.


Megan and Maria Daniela


Xavier (and Gang) have come to the states a couple of times to visit, so we have gotten to see them from time to time and also to see their kids grow.  Xavier and Lucy are going to have their hands full when these girls hit their teens! 


Paola and Xavier


Can you see the family resemblance? …and if you look closely you will see Sophia sucking her fingers   …that has got to stop!!  Wonder where she gets that from?


Paola and Kids


These pictures are before we headed to the beach (Salinas) with them… and I had yet to taste the wrath of our merciless sun on my fair skin!! 


Rock Stars!


But these kids are ready…. (this is at Abuelo Humberto and Abuela Isabel’s house)  Ready for the sun and the fun…


Rock Star!


How the kids are growing.  They are mastering the mixture of Spanish and English with a good division of what to use with who.  We keep at it.  Asking them to say things in Spanish and English…. And in complete sentences…. And please… and thank you…and put the knife down...


Matthew and Sophia Chillin


…they say that the constant reminders pays off…most likely only like 2% or 3%   I am sure that it will … (hopefully sooner than later…)

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Nativity

The kids had  a couple of days of school and did a nativity scene.  Matthew was a Shepperd, and Megan was a star.


This one did have too many pictures to post... and even out of the ones that we liked it was still too many ... so click on the pic to go to the gallyer... or click HERE.

Friday, December 29, 2006

The Banana

Of Bananas and kids… Very much like people… bananas come in all shapes and sizes.  Well, ok … maybe not to such a level of differences, but there is one here that you don’t see very often.


Megan Banana


Well, in case you did not know, a couple of Ecuador’s biggest exports are bananas and flowers…a flower is a thing of beauty…. So I guess I should focus on the bananas: King of Comedy slapstick


Matthew Small Banana


These small bananas are called “Oritos”…a very small and very sweet mini banana... but as the kids like to call them, “baby bananas”.  Of which of course no adult is supposed to eat.. ever! I was told by my all knowing wise three year old daughter.  I know I have seen some of these before… but for the life of me I can’t help think they are part of some dastardly evil plan involving a mad scientist and the testing of a shrink ray…


Happy Megan


…or perhaps I am just paranoid…and its all part of natural selection, in where the smaller sized bananas were able to survive their hungry monkey like predators by being to small to see???


Coke Light


Ok… maybe that’s just crazy talk.  Check out this two liter bottle of Coke Light.  The subtle fact that just the shape and name is slightly different is enough to amuse me hours on end.


Megan Eats


Irregardless (I love that word) of the food, size, names, etc… one thing is for sure… our kids love to eat.  Does that come from Paola’s side of the family or mine? … most likely both...


Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Pizza

Time for a treat.  All this running around is making us hungry, and Megan (since before I got here) was asking me for Pizza.  One of the kids favorite foods.  So we gathered the troops and headed to a strange placed called “a mall”.  This ‘mall’ was called Mall del Sol (Mall of the Sun).  A strange a magical place, where no matter what part of the world you are in, you are transported to a standardized sterile environment of comfort.  The air conditioning flows strong, and the food court rang the familiar names which put the smiles one the kid’s faces…


Family Waiting 


“Pizza Hut” was the mantra for the evening…. And the kids chanted “Pizza! Pizza!..”  …and a promise is a promise, so we waited.  The kids have been trying a lot of different foods, or foods that are a little different here, but some favorites never change.


Megan Waiting Sophia Waiting


The order was placed… the kids waited for the personal serving pleasures.  They talked about how they were going to eat the whole thing all at one time… and I joked about how I had ordered each of them their favorite.  Elephant Pizza!!!   “…NO Papi!!  Yuck!!”   ...someday I am going to have to try Elephant...


Matthew Pizza


Pizza Pizza Pizza  Sometimes its more the emotion or the memory of a thing than the actual thing itself.  Like when you go back to a place you had not been to in many years, and it looks smaller… different.  Or you had your most favorite food from that favorite place…. You come back years later and you think that they must have changed their secret recipe.


Megan Pizza


Well, my old elementary school did not shrink…I got bigger… (or my memory[image] was getting bigger)  It wasn’t Paola’s favorite pizza place in New York that changed their time honored secret recipe (the same guy was still there making the pizzas)…It was Paola who had changed…


Megan Flight


Enough philosophy.  Now time for some games.  What mall would be a mall without some distractions for the kids…(and adults)


Sophia Rides


If you have ever watched kids play in ‘game/arcade’ places you quickly pick up on the fact that it could be a flying bucket for all they care… and the kids would still have a blast.  Maybe it’s the lights and sounds… or just the motion…. Or the thought that someone may drop some coins in the machine and their may be an opportunity to carry out the attack plans on a neighboring sibling.


Megan Plane


…or maybe the kids just dream of getting on a plane…and taking a trip to a magical land where their parents let them eat all the junk food and candy they can stand.


Sophia Plane


…maybe it was all the ice cream they ate before we played… or maybe it was just the novelty of visiting this fun filled place…with my sugar jacked up kids…but a wave of nostalgia hit me… and thought back (..way back)... I remember also trying to gun down my brothers and sisters in an arcade…  …ah good times…. Good times.

Monday, December 25, 2006

The Journey

They say it is not the destination but the journey …. And this journey is a long one.  A large portion of our time is spent getting around from place to place.  Mostly doing some errands that Paola has tucked away in her vacation schedule.  Too many things to really do in the time allotted… but one can dream.  But one must never speak out against the Dream … or SMACK!  Moving around is mainly by cabs and the family taxi/friend (“Mr. Ochoa”).  Better to help a friend/family than some random stranger (Paola always says).


Paola SMACK!



Well one of our stops on this day, was Paola’s replacement Ecuadorian ID.  Oddly enough this was stolen three or four years ago in the US and mainly gone unmentioned until now, where it has become a subject of utmost urgency.  But before you could apply you had to have either the old one (to renew) or a reported ‘theft of’ from the local government office.  Well the local  “Governacion” office is where we had to go.  Well first off, the first thing you start to notice is that there are no wood and Sheetrock buildings ANYWHERE.  And these office buildings where no different.  All of the buildings are stone, marble and concrete.  This collection of buildings was no exception.


Gov Statue



We were greeted by this statue in front of the government buildings.  Soldiers and police are everywhere.  That is another big difference here.  Labor cost are much lower, and it shows at any place where there are people or things of value.  These buildings are near the newly remodeled area of Malecon.  We will be going back there when there is a little more touring time.  It’s an area right on the river with shops, restaurants and parks.  Well any-who, We go into the office and it is the incarnated essence of ‘red tape’ and paper work.  No two government workers tell you the same thing.  Directions to the rooms you need to visit are cryptic and half way incorrect.


Gov Woker



After visiting half a dozen wrong rooms a couple of maybe right rooms…and getting the wrong forms…. wrong forms again… bad copy forms…. Out dated forms…. Then correct form, we were then informed that we would have to take this ‘Holy Grail’ form and go somewhere with it and make a copy of it????  No Lie!!  So we went to the first friendly copier guy…. But he had the copying machine that made blurry and faded tilted copies that were not accepted… (but he kept working there anyways)…. Then we found a guy in another building who got us what we needed.  Now it was time to get it filled out… The old guy in the picture is a single finger slow motion typer that fills out the forms.  I felt like we were in some silly government sitcom.  No way this was a real situation…


Sponge Bob



We did get to see one of the new year “Viejos”.  This is a giant tradition here in Ecuador where they make a giant ‘doll’ of famous people, characters….etc.  Then they are displayed … everyone shows of their great work on making these dolls.  These dolls represent the old year (Viejo)… and when it is new years, they are all set ablaze.  Well in this government office we got to see this Viejo… waiting for his turn at the flames to kick of the new year!


Lizard   Lizard


The city has gone through a lot of renovations since last I was here.  There are a lot of new areas, and a bunch of the historical places have been revamped.  There are a bunch of new parks and a lot of new decorative statue/display thingies.  This is a giant iguana that is built near one of the parkways.  There is also a giant bird that I need to capture on digital film soon….


Nap Time



Well the kids let out of school…. Some more running around and we came home to join them.  Sophia looked sleepy, so I tried to talk her into a nap.  The kids were all still very clingy since they had not seem me in so long... so they all followed me to Nap time… but oddly enough, none of them would stay still long enough to nap…. And I had hoped that I might get a nap in since I had not gotten much time to sleep, and my little angels had woken me up early.




Before I knew it, Paola was grabbing my arm and telling me we had some more running around to do.  Of course we did…  We had to buy Megan’s star wand and Matthew’s shepherd outfit.  Along the way she noticed a old sweet shop that she used to love…. So of course, how could we not stop.





A lot of the home made and typical foods here were very affordable, but a lot of the imported items cost the same as in the states…. Or more.  Funny how you start noticing a lot of the little differences…. Or not, but you know something is different about it.  For instance, the Diet Coke… I had not thought about it … but realized that here ‘Diet’ has no meaning… so its Coke Light.  …in the stores you see 3 liter cokes as a norm?  2 litter bottles look like the single serving bottles…


Coke Light

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Arrival



The plane trip really did seem uneventful.  I finally did start reading that book that I was not able to start at the airport.  I guess once I was locked into a moving plane with no escape… not much else I could do.  It’s a really great book by Stephen King … a book he started back in the 70s … and just finished in 2003+  “The Gunslinger” Series  Have I mentioned that I have not read a book for leisure in over 10 years?  Well, before I could even finish my book, we were there… another country, on the other side of the planet.  Ecuador!  It’s a very different world and culture that never ceases to amaze me.  I have been to Ecuador several times, years ago, but this was the first time that I had come since the new airport opened up.  It’s all new and modern, very nice.  The older airport, you had to climb down from the plane on the portable stairs, and walk to the terminal on the runway (which was kind of neat).


Briam Beard


My wife and her brother picked me up, and it was like I had not seen my wife and kids in months.  The kids had stayed at home sleeping, since it was a late night arrival.  I had the urge to wake them up, but of course that was crazy since it was almost one in the morning.  Since my wife and kids had left (a couple of weeks ago) I had started to grow a fuzzy beard.  Not the cut one that I normally wear, but she did not really notice.  She kept saying that I looked different, but could not put her finger on it.

Matthew and Sophia getting ready.


Of course we were all beat when we got to the house, we chatted for a little while, but we had to get some sleep.  The little angels would be up bright and early to make sure that I was not accidentally getting any rest.  We can’t have any of that on vacation…


Matthew and Megan


The kids were all very excited that I was finally there… most likely they suspected that I had secretly been getting rest and quiet…. (and they were right).  But that was all over now.  It was time to have fun (and tired times) with the family.  

The kids were all so excited about the little school they were attending this week.  They were having so much fun with their new little friends, and also with the Christmas play that they were going to put on in a few days.


Megan getting ready.


The school was putting on a Nativity scene.  Megan was going to be a little star and Matthew was going to be one of the shepherds.  Sophia, of course was going to help supervise while eating as much candy and junk food as her little stomach could handle.


Sophia getting ready.


It is so good to see Paola and the kids again.  I did not think I was going to make it.  I don’t think I ever want go without them for that long again… (or at least until they drive me nuts)…

I could have used a little more rest before the kids woke me up…maybe tomorrow will bring a little more rest, but ‘All signs point to no”


Matthew is a star!


So much to post… and time is flying.  Paola already has the days filled with activities that are a MUST… Family…. Friends… food…. Parties…. Plays…. Food…. Beach…. Food…. Sunburn….food… mountains… food…. Volcano…. Food… giant tralantulas... food.... burning 'the old man'... You get the idea.




Friday, December 22, 2006

The Flight

The time had finally come… it had seemed like months that I had not seen my family…. My beautiful wife… my wonderful little angels (fallen)… The closer the day came… the more I thought about them.  My life seemed a lot different these past few days… Everything I planned was happening on time… where before, we could not be on time to save our lives.  Everything that I cleaned around the house stayed clean, where before, there was no way to catch up to the mess left by our three mini tornadoes.   …and the quiet!  Oh the blissful silence that filled the house.  I kicked on some tunes every now and then…. It was nice…   I put on some Christmas music…. It was nice… for awhile.  After some time (who knows how long) it became a haunting curse.  This giant house was now just a huge clean quiet museum.  It was maddening…. How I started to miss the noise of my family…

Who is this? 


So the journey begins!  I did get a chance to see my parents for lunch before I left.  My Dad took me to the airport.  The last couple of days it had started to dawn on me that this would be the first Christmas/New Years that we had ever spent outside of the US in countless years (I can’t count very high).  Who is this lady in the picture?  I think she is some famous actress that my generation does not remember…


Well any who…. After a quick check in…. and a quick tran to my terminal, there I was…. In my seat in front of this picture on the wall.  On the international terminal…. Waiting.  Just a few hours till boarding….


Giant Carrot


Time seemed to slow down…. Almost stop.  And of course I knew the cause.  That cursed carrot was mocking me… delighting in my torture.  Delighting in prolonging my waiting and suffering.  I knew I had to fight back… but how?



Nutrition….. Time to eat!  Nothing says health and prosperity like an airport hot dog.  No skimping here… I even had two packets of ketchup to splurge on it.  A nice cold diet Pepsi to wash it down… I guess my real goal was the expectation that I would finish my meal, and magically the time to my flight would disappear.  I had tried reading a book… but every other paragraph lead me back to the clock on the wall… I felt like I was in the movie “Ground Hog Day” except for it was “Airport Day” …. And it wasn’t the day repeating… it was these last few hours.


Sing Song


I had started to lose hope… as if the plane would never arrive… but then I heard the sweet soothing sounds of Christmas carolers…. In the Airport?  At that point I knew that my hot dog must be tainted.  Spiked!!  Who knew what elicit drugs where causing my delusions.  The paintings on the walls were talking to me… the carrot was mocking me… the food was yummy (for airport food)…. And now Carolers going terminal gate to terminal gate singing Christmas songs????  Surely I was on the brink of madness!


Flying Corn


Well… maybe the madness has always been with me.  But my time was up.  All aboard!  I got on my flying corn plane and headed out to Ecuador.  I asked them if there was going to be a meal and a movie… and sure enough … “Children of the Corn”, corn bread, corn flakes, and pop corn.  :-P

Monday, December 18, 2006

Fuzzy Feet

Not too long ago, I was thinking to myself .... "I can't get any work done with all these kids distracting me..."

Fuzzy Feet

...but now I find myself alone with my fuzzy shoes... and no one to distract me.  Now that I think about it.... that seems more like a distraction than having the kids always playing around me... but not to fear...  I will soon be with them!! 

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A mile in my shoes.

Well.... the madness is setting in.   I dropped my wife and kids at the airport last week.  This is the longest we have ever been apart.  I miss them something terribly.  They are in Ecuador at my in-laws.  The kids are having a blast and playing a lot with their cousins and uncles and grandparents ... oh my.  Paola is also having a blast (its a bit hard with three kids... but she has some help now).  She is getting to see old friends and family that she has not seen in years.

I don't get to go out there to visit for a couple more days... but it is starting to seem like a lifetime.  There is an old saying ... "...distance makes the heart grow fonder..."  At first I kept super busy with all the stuff I had to finish for church and work... and around the house... and saying 'goodbye' to friends....  but now that I am almost all ready, I have time to focus on the silence in my home, and all I keep doing is replaying memories of my family.  You start to forget all those little things that drove you nuts.... the mess the kids make... all those things we take for granted.

Mile in my shoes

Technology today helps to make the world seem smaller.  I do get to talk to my wife and kids almost every day.  Her parents have a Internet phone thingy that lets us call them for free....  and on top of that.... theirs email....every day....   Its almost like they are just at a friends house or something...


I thank God everyday for my wife.... my kids.... my family.... my friends ...and all the blessings He gives us that we don't deserve.  Its times like this that remind me,... its not about 'stuff'.  It does not matter so much what we have.... but who we spend our lives with.  I miss them so much, that if I think about it too much I get chocked up.... (guys are not supposed to hint that they might possibly ever think about maybe crying.... maybe)

Family Time

Well, the thing that has helped me out is knowing that its only a few more days away till I am back with my family...

Friday, December 15, 2006

Thanks Giving 2006

Last month there was a thanksgiving family/parent thingy at the kid's school.  Full of Indians and pilgrims.  Paola and I both got a chance to go, and through the wonders of modern digital photography, this glimpse back in time to the first Thanks Giving was captured.

Pilgrims versus Indians

Not only that, but they all lined up for us... All the kids participated, and there was  nice little play/song/dance(?) they put together for us.  I am sure this will be the next big hit on Broadway.

Indian Arts and Crafts

Well the Indians did not keep their 'gear' on too long, and soon they were released to sit at the assigned seats.  They brought with them their arts and crafts.  I thought that I would buy some stuff with beads and nick knacks, but this little Indian wanted real $$ for this hand crafted genuine piece of American History.... and of course I could not say no.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Where are the posts?

Ok Ok.   I am sorry that I have not been posting much lately.... birthday... vacation... Ecuador.... Lonely Briam...  :-P   ....I guess I better start catching up.

Lets start back a couple of weeks.  Megan turned 3 on 11/24/2006!!  Thats right.  She is already asking Paola if she can wear make up....  seriously....

Well, any-who.  We had a party at one of those inflatable able bouncy wear your children out places.   Click on this picture to see more!!!

Happy Third Birthday Megan!!

or HERE ....

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Not Mickey

Its hard to remember the first time I faced death.  I mean when I was just a child.... was it a bug... a pet.... a plant/flower.  I know that if I touch a plant now.... instant death.  I kind of have a black thumb.

Well anyways, our cat was nice enough to bring us a little mouse friend.  Unfortunately this one was not very talkative.... he also did not eat much...  or move...

...ok ... well, he was dead.

Dead Mouse

The kids did have a few questions.... and I can only imagine what was going on in their heads.


 I guess we all go through the phases of "Death" differently..... from knowing..... to understanding.... to accepting.  And I guess this little guy is part of that process.