Saturday, March 22, 2014

Our giggly baby :)

Sophia gets more expressive, more social, and more FUN by the day! I know the relatives will at least enjoy this video of our giggly little girl.

(Just promise you won't listen to my voice! Oh, and disregard her crazy, greasy hair. She was bathed later this day, but when she's being delightful... Well, I just couldn't wait!)

Thursday, March 20, 2014


A word foreigners quickly learn in Spanish is TRAMITES! This means paperwork, and it’s a continual way of life here.

It just so happens that Jake’s visa arrival and thus other document renewal, the boy’s new documents, ongoing Sophia paperwork, selling a car and buying a car, and preparing for our first big family road trip are all colliding in the same three week time period.

Our checklist:

Renew Jake’s residency visa (involving lots of paperwork and many trips to immigration to check on status): CHECK

Renew Jake’s Bolivian ID card: CHECK

Renew Jake’s Bolivian driver’s license (involves many steps at 3 different places): ALMOST done!

Jake obtain medical certificate for participation in the national triathlon: CHECK (he detailed the many steps for this on Facebook)

Obtain final court testimony of our adoption, helpful for travel: CHECK

Receive boy’s birth certificates in our names, as part of the adoption process:
Son #1: CHECK
Son #2: CHECK! (And how excited he is!!)
Son #3: PENDING (The court didn’t pay attention to where his BC was originally issued—another city should have been notified as to the adoption, not Cochabamba. Sigh.)

Go to lawyer’s office and then court to point out error with Son #3’s birth certificate: CHECK

Obtain Bolivian ID cards for the three boys:
Son #1: Hopefully tomorrow
Son #2: Hopefully tomorrow
Son #3: ???
Obtain Bolivian passports for the three boys so that we can have lots MORE paperwork and apply for US visas for a visit: PENDING

Jennifer request new Bolivian ID card because hers is so worn many do not want to accept it: PENDING

Return to US Consulate to request (again) Sophia’s social security number, because Jake signed her passport and I signed her social security application, and La Paz rejected the different signatures: CHECK (first appointment was canceled by the consulate, due to local protests, and changed to a week later)

Arrange details of sale of Jennifer’s car: CHECK

Transfer papers of Jennifer’s car: PENDING

Leave deposit for our new car with current owner so that it’s reserved for us: CHECK

Try 50 different ways to get enough money to Bolivia efficiently, for the purchase of the car, then open bank account to be able to receive a money wire and pick up in one visit to the bank: CHECK

Make deposit into Tarija hotel’s bank account for our reservation: CHECK

Call hotels in Sucre until I find an economical one, with parking for large vehicle, and a policy that allows children!: CHECK

Those who know Bolivia know how many hours of waiting and running around such tramites entail!!

Now that Sophia is back to eating every 3 hours (after a period of every 2), it’s easier, although I’m still amazed even after 5 months by how quickly every 3 hours rolls around!! With all the outings, she often has to fall asleep in our arms, which means shorter naps, or some pretty indignant screaming when we get home and try to put her in the crib to sleep. But we’re not complaining too much—at least she IS falling asleep in our arms, in noisy places, something that hasn’t often happened in the past.

Also in the works:

Jake has multiple triathlon meetings and paperwork (such as obtaining a letter from the triathlon club for his work)

We’ve set up a Magic Jack phone line, which means that for very low cost, we now have a Washington phone line hooked up to a phone at our house in Bolivia.

Once we have the new car, we’ll need to get it insured, among other things to make it trip ready!

In just a couple of months, I’ll have to start the process to renew my Bolivian driver’s license. When I first got it 5 years ago, this day seemed so far away…

And now we’ve just thrown in doctor’s appointments for checking two of our boys’ eyesight. (So far Samuel does need glasses, to be picked up tomorrow!)

Shew. No WONDER it’s been hectic and we fall into bed exhausted at night!! I’ve also had a lot of Casa de Amor work lately, plus all the housework/cooking again because our help quit a couple weeks ago. I've tried to keep up homeschooling with everything else...

Never a dull moment around here! :) 

Update, March 21:

Frustrating, longer-than-expected morning in SEGIP! Poor baby was anywhere from fussy to very fussy to screaming the last hour (of course right when our number was called and I needed the brothers to take over). Sigh.

Our goals, after paying at the bank, were for Jake to apply for his driver's license with his mountain of paperwork, and for us to request ID cards for 2 of the 3 boys.

I guess we had a successful morning by Bolivian standards, in that Michael proudly received his first carnet ever!

He's been clinging to it all day!

But for the other two, I have to go back to two government offices (one in Cochabamba, one in Quillacollo) to request proof that their former birth certificates have actually been canceled. I shouldn't need anything else other than what I already have, but SEGIP insists. Hopefully the "corte" will give it to me without help from a lawyer.

Then back to SEGIP, back to the long line for "administrative tramites", then finally the line for the ID cards! I don't think that all this will happen before our trip in 6 days... Two boys will just have to travel with their former names/ID cards.

As for Jake's license, I was worried when I saw that there was a contradiction on his background check from transit. Sure enough, SEGIP rejected it! Jake had to get back to school (we're lucky he even got the morning off), so he'll deal with that error this afternoon.

And so it continues! ;-)

Friday, March 14, 2014

Two Years Ago Today...

...Jake and I met! In person!

I was definitely aware that I was probably meeting my future husband.

Jake was definitely interested in finding out why God persisted in making sure he came to a city in the middle of Bolivia, in the middle of South America.

After an amazing week together of all the pieces falling into place after so many years of waiting (I was 29, Jake was 33),  of course I hung on Jake's every word, intrigued by any clues alluding to a future together. So as I excitedly studied his pictures from his March Bolivia trip, my breath caught to read the Facebook caption for this picture:

 March 14, 2012
 "Nos conocimos aqui por primera vez" (We met here for the first time)
Jake waiting here for me to pick him up after his arrival adventures.

I wondered: was our first meeting place as momentous to him as it was to me?! The caption - even in Spanish, a "secret language" to many of our friends - seemed to indicate so.
Ah, those first day memories...

Last year, we returned to "el avion" (the airplane) on our one year "meeting anniversary".

March 14, 2013
I'm holding the flowers Jake gave me the year before. 
Just seven months later, a one-day-old daughter would be in our arms!
And of course, if there would be a picture TODAY, on March 14, 2014... We'd have our hands full with four children, just two years to the day of meeting. Wow! Our cup is full.
And now I'm off to make my husband's favorite dinner, hamburgers.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Baby Sophia, 5 Months!!

This is the first month where I think “WOW! Five months!!” I think time will start to go faster now!

Sophia now weighs 13 pounds, 11 ounces, and doubled her birth weight a couple weeks ago. It's amazing to watch her perfectly follow the 50 percentile curve for length and head circumference, and the 25th percentile for weight. Guess our baby will be tall, skinny, and smart...?? I never thought I'd have a "small" baby, but my back and arms are grateful!

 Sophia often has her fists in her mouth, babbling away! We could listen to her all day long!

Daddy is still pretty much her favorite person in the world, although she brightens up with any of her family members!

Over the course of this month I packed up all her newborn size clothes…then 3 months…and now she’s wearing all her 3-6 month clothes plus most of the 6 month size. My Mom is still shocked, I think, by a baby who wears the "right" size! She's more like a Bolivian baby in this regard. 
Each month that I continue to be able to breastfeed, I am grateful. The first few months were so rough - reaching a proper supply, and realizing that my baby doesn't thrive on a schedule - that I never want to take for granted the ability to provide enough for my baby. I only had one hard week a few back when I took only one drop, two days in a row, of an oil blend containing peppermint. It's true folks, peppermint really does dry up a milk supply!! I was sooo frustrated, and poor Sophia had some screamy days there. I took the last of my fenugreek to get back up to where I was and am staying away from anything mint!!

 Love the hot days when we can see some skin! :)
Particularly on the days when she actually gets enough sleep, and doesn’t try to go all day with just one nap, we have a VERY HAPPY BABY!! Every month of her life she has improved on her happy awake times. She brings us so much joy! The boys adore her and say “We like her like this!” Me, too! A couple mornings, she’s even started to coo and sing to herself in bed instead of screaming. Of course, feeding every two hours throughout the night quite positively affects her attitude...if not mine! :)

Jake says "Mommy's sunshine...daddy's moonshine?!" He has had some special bonding, ah-hem, time with our baby this past month while mommy tries to sleep

The latest greatest is that she began rolling from back to front a few days ago!!! Jake said he’s surprised by how exciting it is for him, and I’d say her brothers are almost more excited than us. They think she’s just the greatest thing ever. (And I think, wait till she’s crawling or walking!!) She now ends up suddenly on her stomach a couple times a day now, much to her chagrin. The boys ask her, “Why do you do it baby, if you don’t like it and it makes you cry?!” Yep, still not a fan of tummy time.
The boys also think she’s an absolute genius when she plucks her pacifier out of her mouth… And then manages to get it back in again!

We’ve had all different version of night/sleeping/napping difficulties this past month. I’d say that’s still the number one hardest thing with Sophia, getting her the proper sleep she needs! She really needs an environment as quiet and non-stimulating as possible to go to sleep, and of course to be firmly swaddled, with pacifier in the mouth. Sometimes she has to be super super tired to finally give up and go to sleep, and other times it’s good to catch her early, as all the books advise. She keeps me guessing!!
So hard to keep her wiggly little self in the swaddle blanket these days, but naps are very brief if we don't use it. 
We decided a while back that all of the “tried-and-true” methods for getting a baby to sleep only make it worse for ours: baths, neighborhood walks, car rides, soft music, pacing, rocking... One item that HAS left that list (if we are 110% sure that ALL of her other needs have been met) is “crying it out” (whatever “it” is?). That FINALLY began to be more helpful that counterproductive this month!!! Realizing just how overstimulated and overly tired she gets, I worked hard at this a few days after she turned 4 months. If I catch her at just the right point, she can put herself to sleep in the crib (swaddled and with the pacifier, of course) without screaming herself into a rage! She zones out there and peacefully drifts off to sleep. At worst, we have to go back to her several times to re-insert the pacifier. 
Ah. Our lives have CHANGED!!
This is what we deal with ALL DAY LONG when she decides naps are just for babies!!
Over the course of this month, we went from every other night being very difficult…to maybe 1 out of 3…to now just one a week! We have happy, peaceful evenings again, yeah!!! Ironically, the nights she goes to bed the easiest are usually the most up-and-down for me, as she wakes hourly needing a little pat, or the pacifier again, or arms to be re-swaddled, or a feed... For all but one of the past ten or so nights, she nurses every 2 - 2 1/2 hours!! I have been more sleep-deprived this last month than the past several.

I guess it's my own fault, because this began after a period of trying to teach her to give up the 3am feeding, because at that point, she was sticking pretty well to a schedule of 6am, 9am, noon, and so on. I thought it would be pretty great to go back to something she's already done consistently, eating around midnight and around 5 or 6am. But after 6 nights, each worse than the one before, we abandoned this mission and she decided to eat all throughout the night, just in case! Sigh. I tell myself that someday I’ll miss this quiet time with her, and how she needs me, and how I can so easily give her what she needs, and that makes the constant tiredness easier. One more month of this though, and I'll be thinking about solids!! Otherwise, my goal is 7 months of exclusive nursing.


This dress from my mom was a little big for her on Valentine's Day, but fits great now!

A few pictures of my bathing beauty! I was experimenting with different settings on Jake's camera.

How she LOVES to splash, splash, splash in her bath tub! I've started to leave the tub inside our shower because she gets the entire bathroom floor and walls so wet! She kicks like crazy. However, as soon as she hits the cool air getting out, she screams as vigorously as she played! Recently, after three times in a row of a rough hour (or more) after a bath, I hesitated to ever bath her again! Sigh. I just have to pick the right time of day, preferably not at night, when she's not already tired. If everything goes just right, some times I can even work in a little lotion or oil massage with background piano music playing - a special time for both of us! 

I've used more and more cloth diapers this past month, as more fit her. Some days I use them all day. I love these that a friend gave me/the Baby Home when she left Bolivia! There are several pretty pastel colors and white. I like using them with Sophia's sun dresses, too.

Modeling the hat friends in jail knitted for my baby:

We love all her HAIR! Not sure if I've ever seen a gringa baby with so much light hair. (And isn't it turning more blonde?!)

Here our hair looks the exact same color, but in certain lighting a bronze/red comes out (definitely from her daddy!)

And speaking of hair, this is her new look these days, YIKES! Her dad loves it, I don't know what to do with it. :)

And one last picture:

Wonderful to have a happy baby at least a couple hours of the day now, and even self-entertaining! :) 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Outing to the Woods

Jake had two days off work this week (yay!) due to "Carnaval", so we escaped the noise and pollution of the city for a family trip to the woods in the mountains behind our house! It was also significantly cooler at such a high elevation. (I think Jake said we were approaching 12,000 ft above sea level.)

In Parque Tunari

The Cast of Characters:

Ol' Lucy
(Check out that awful great road!! It's way worse now at the end of rainy season - 10 minutes per kilometer, both going up and coming back down. Jake couldn't say enough wonderful things about it, which kept us all groaning smiling. This is also why lots of the pictures I made while in the car are blurry or not well-centered...) 



Three Sons

Baby Bear

 Our Lunch Site
(Here Jake is encouraging the kids to pick up trash from former visitors)
Exploring at km 10

Daddy taking a turn with baby after such a long screaming session Mommy wanted to throw herself from the car. :)

Yep, we did a bit of this...

...and some napping in the very secure car seat (first time installed in Dad's car)
Notice the blanket keeping her head better positioned, although I also kept my hand on her forehead over the bumpiest portions of the road.

The boys exploring the double waterfall at km 8
The next day as part of school, I asked the boys to write the story of our little excursion. Joel did a marvelous job and I share his writing here for anyone who reads Spanish:
 Hopefully this is legible to those who can read it. Love the details he included!

And the final page, complete with an illustration: "Gracias, Fin" (Thanks, the end)

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Just Like Daddy, Part II

I rarely do this because before I know it, an hour's gone, but I added some special effects to some of my fav pictures of this week's photo shoot. :)

My old-fashioned baby

 Sweet baby!

 1960s finish

And my personal favorite!!

Pencil sketch

Just Like Daddy

A few weeks ago, Jake's parents were trying to convince him that what everyone says is true: Sophia looks just like him! As proof, they mentioned this picture:

If the 4 1/2 month caption is right, this picture would have been made in mid-October, near when Sophia was born a few years later :)

Thanks to my sister Heather's hard work, we have a copy in a special "childhood picture album" that she made for our Bolivia wedding!

The day before Sophia would be 4 1/2 months old, I put her in her first pair of overalls, a gift Jake's mom brought when she visited Sophia just born.

Her oldest brother immediately declared her a "campesinita", ready to go work in the campo (Bolivian countryside)!! Uhhh... Okay!

I was glad I discovered they fit just in time for her to use them! The outfit had appeared too big hanging in the closet.

But before you judge their likeness yourself, a few more pictures from our various sessions throughout the day.

This little set is when baby goes TIMBERRRR.....

Here she goes...


Brother lends a helping hand

Love this one - she was still laughing at our picture-making antics as she went down!

I had lots of helping hands from Sophia's fan club!

Can just hear her brothers saying, "Don't eat your hands, baby booboo!!"

Looking up at Daddy

The whole gang! 

A hand from Daddy

And a few more:


Hands are often in mouth these days

Sweet baby tootsies

"How much longer, Mommy?!"

And now, the best seven pictures of the day:

The closest match?!

Being feisty! :)

 Studying someone...

In retrospect, noticed that I didn't exactly cover the window behind Sophia, oops. Was too busy concentrating on her! :)

Looks so big here!

 Not exactly smiling, but she's looking up!

We love this baby!!