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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Christmas in Antigua 2006

Santa's been so good to us this year!

Soli opens her first Christmas Eve jammies while Sissy offers encouragement!

"Gosh darn, my daddy's funny!!"

Look at that beautiful face!

Merry Christmas!

Honestly, Santa. Couln't you find a bigger candy cane?

Cole and Em trying out their new toys from Santa.

I got a new doll from Santa, and she's so cute I'm gonna eat her up!

Christmas morning proves too much for Daddy and Baby.

My first Barbie! Thanks Santa!

And I thought getting three to smile for the camera was nearly impossible...

The pure torture of Christmas pictures...

I give up! But they're still so cute!

Happy Holidays!
Dave & Heather
Coleman, Emerson, Eve, and Soleil

Thursday, December 28, 2006

I need a Latte Caramelo to cure my Christmas hangover!

Dave left yesterday morning and today I'm feelin' the pain. I stayed up far too late blogging last night, and I think I'm suffering from a Christmas hangover, too. The last few weeks I've been so focused on getting us acquainted with Antigua and making our house feel like a home. I've been busy getting ready for Christmas and Evie's birthday, and, of course, I've been anticipating Dave's arrival. Now, Dave has come and gone, Evie's birthday is over, and Christmas is another year away. I just need to find a new project and do a little shopping (that always helps). I'm finding myself checking my email every 20 minutes for word that we are out of PGN, and that's just not healthy. I think I'll start today looking into school options for the boys. The local schools start their school year on January 20th. The boys started Spanish lessons yesterday, and I just love to see them using what they learn with their little friends. Today I heard Emerson telling Jhonathan, "Soy rubio!" "I'm blonde!" Not the most useful phrase to know, but Spanish none the less. As for our adoption, our agency keeps saying that she expects us to be getting out of PGN any day. There was another family with our same attorney who went in on the same day as us and they got out after only 5 weeks. There is also a rumor going around that Barrios (the director of PGN) is going to be in this week to push a bunch of cases through before the New Year. Hopefully, ours is one of them!! Thanks for checking in on us! I'm off to make lunch. ~Heather

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Happy Birthday Evie!!

Evie turned four on Christmas Eve. But since that tends to be a rather busy day for everyone we had her party on the 23rd. This year Evie opted for a Dora theme which I thought seemed rather appropriate! So we had a jumpy house, pizza and a pinata. Thankfully, our complex has ready-made party goers available at no extra charge! We had close to 20 kiddos attending the festivities! The weather was beautiful and it turned out to be a very fun, low stress day.

I had brought Christmas sprinkles with us from the states to make Christmas cookies. Since I knew we wouldn't need them all for cookies I thought I'd be rather efficient and let Evie use some to decorate her birthday cake. Apparently, I wasn't quite clear enough about the SOME part...Before I knew it she and Emerson had covered her cake with every last sprinkle that I had brought!! That was one crunchy cake! We skipped the Christmas cookies this year, and no one (not even Santa) seemed to mind...

The "big kids" giving the "little kids" a turn in the jumpy house. ~Savannah, Austin, Clay, Cole, Charlotte, and Eliana.

My beautiful birthday girl.

"I wish I had just a few more sprinkles for my cake!"

Grace, Aspen, Calla, Evie, Reagan, Quintin and Delaney.

Evie takin' a swing at Dora's "backpack, backpack".

Assessing her pinata bounty...

"I'm just about too cool for Dora birthday parties, but I guess I'll stick around for the candy."

I told Dave that Soli could have a "taste" of banana (she's hardly ever had any solids). Next time I looked over she was gnawing on half a banana in the peel. (Oh how those peels stain!)

Emerson and Jhonathan ( pronounced Yonathan) are two peas in a pod. Neither speaks the other's language and yet they hang out all day and have a great time together. I guess they both speak the universal language of Kid.

Happy birthday my sweet, 4 year old girl! I love you so much, Sissy!
Wow! That's a lot of kids!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Meeting My Daddy (again) and Las Posadas

Soli has become a total Mama's girl. When someone reaches to take her out of my arms she turns her little face into my shoulder and holds on tight to my shirt with both hands. Although I love it that she only wants to be with me, I was worried that she wouldn't go to Dave when he got here. I shouldn't have worried. She absolutely adores her Daddy. She follows him around the room with her eyes, and as soon as he gets close enough she reaches out for him. It's so sweet, and Dave is, of course, equally smitten with her.

It has been so great having Dave here. He's been taking such good care of us. He's been cooking every night (and most mornings) and making sure that we are eating healthy. He ixnayed the chocoflakes that I've been letting the kids eat for breakfast. He's been doing the dishes and the laundry, and yesterday he helped me go to the grocery store (which is no easy feat!). He's been getting up with the baby in the mornings so I can sleep in, which apparently I must have needed because yesterday I slept until 11! Ouch! He's been playing soccer and football with the kids which they love (I think all the kids in our complex are slightly starved for some Daddy time.). Anyway, he's a stud, and it will be very painful to let him go. Hopefully, he'll be back soon...

Our first picture as a family of six!

I'm sitting up like a big girl!!

On Thursday night we were invited to be a part of a posada. (That's us on the right.) In Guatemala, Las Posadas happen every night from December 15-24. My understanding is that each night represents a different segment of Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem. A group of people form (there are many different groups going simultaneously around town) and they represent Mary and Joseph. They start at one home and end at another where they "pedir posada" or ask for lodging. They carry candle lanterns and a little float with statuettes of Mary and Joseph. Along the way they sing a specific song over and over while the children beat out the rhythm on tortoise shell drums. Our posada also had a woman playing guitar and an older man with a whistle. Once the group arrives at the destination home (predetermined) they sing a different song asking for lodging. A second group, waiting inside the house, answers with their own verse. The two groups sing back and forth to each other through a closed door until eventually the outside group is let in. Once inside, a prayer is read and Guatemalan Hot Chocolate or Ponche de Frutas is served (we were also served tamales and tea cake.) The statuettes are put in their place until the next evening when they'll be taken to their next destination (a different home). This goes on until the 24th when Mary and Joseph arrive in "Bethlehem" and Baby Jesus is introduced at midnight. I was so thankful that we were able to be a part of such a beautiful and meaningful Christmas tradition from Soli's birth country. We'll have to bring her back when she's old enough to appreciate it, too.
This is a Nativity Scene....yes, I said a nativity scene! Can you imagine? It took up half of a small room and had atleast 100 figurines and twice that many little white twinkle lights. It was truly an amazing sight!! My understanding is that this is the Nativity Scene in the home of the family who sponsored our Posada. I think they organized the walks and arranged for the different families to "host" on different nights. I think the statuettes belong to them and on the 24th the Posada will end here and Mary and Joseph will be placed in this Bethlehem scene. Then at midnight Baby Jesus will be placed in the Manger. I don't know if you can see, but the empty Manger is up near the blue background and the angels. Such a sweet, sweet tradition. I just couldn't get enough! Of course, Dave and the kids weren't nearly as can imagine.

They were pretty excited about the Hot Chocolate, though!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Ponche de Frutas - A Guatemalan Christmas Tradition

Ponche de Frutas is a traditional Christmas drink here in Guatemala. It's served warm and I'm thinking it must be like a cider. I haven't tried it, but I can hardly wait. My neighbor promised she'd show me how to make it. You know I'm so adding Ponche de Frutas to our list of favorite Christmas Traditions!

Ponche de frutas

(Rinde 20 porciones)
• 5 litros de agua
• 1 piña grande de cáscara lisa
• 4 plátanos semi maduros
• 1 papaya pequeña
• 1 libra de manzana
• 1 raja de canela
• 1 onza de pimienta gorda
• 1 1/2 libra de azúcar
• 1 mamey sin semilla
• 8 onzas de pasas
• 8 onzas de ciruelas pasas
Lava las frutas cuidadosamente, a la piña quítale la punta y pícala con un cuchillo, luego vacía en una olla llenada previamente con el agua fría.
Por aparte, corta en trocitos la papaya, el mamey y los plátanos. Introduce las cáscaras de piña y pon al fuego fuerte por 30 minutos.
A continuación extrae las cáscaras, incorpora la fruta picada y cuece por 45 minutos a fuego medio. Por último, añade las pasas y las ciruelas durante los últimos 10 minutos antes de servir. Si lo prefieres agrégale frutas secas o coco en cuadritos. Retira del fuego, añade azúcar al gusto y sirve.
• • • • • • • • •

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Home Sweet Home Away From Home

Under the Antigua sun ~ one of my favorites.

We inherited this bathtub that doubles as a playtub!

Evie makin' friends at preschool.

Isn't she the cutest?

Evie playing on the swing with Lily and Quintin.

I finally got to meet my dear friend Shana and her baby boy, Oliver. Shana has a 2 year old little girl adopted from China and is in the process of adopting Olli as well as 4 year old Isabella, both from Guatemala. She and her husband are here in Antigua fostering also. You can check out Shana's blog(s) by clicking on the picture of her daughter next to one of the comments that she has left for me on many of my previous posts. Her kids are darling!

La Catedral. One of the many amazingly beautiful buildings in this very old city.

Our first day of home school!

We are so happy here in Antigua. Our set up at the Santa Rosa Apartments could not be more perfect. The kids have lots of friends and are even picking up some Spanish here and there! Our little house is so cozy and really feels like home. We just finished our first week of home schooling and it went great. I was a little worried! We worked everyday from 9-12 very consistently. If the kids finished their work early they could read or work from their Spanish workbooks. They had excellent scores on their "end of the week" tests (spelling, reading, etc.). On Tuesday and Thursday, Evie went to the little preschool that's just down the road from us. The teacher speaks Spanish almost exclusively and by the end of the day on Thursday Evie was understanding simple instructions like, "Let's wash hands. It's time for snack." She has a little friend, Charlotte, from our complex that goes there, too. She just loved it, and with any luck, she'll still love it next week. Soli had an ear infection last week, and we had a couple of rough nights (I'm so out of practice for sleepless nights!). I took her to the local pediatrician, and he was just awesome! I walked right in with no appointment, he charged me $20 for the office visit, did a full head to toe exam, and sent me away with a prescription for ear drops and antibiotics. I held off on the antibiotics, but the ear drops were heavenly and got us through the night. I was so relieved to learn that she wasn't brewing something more serious. I have three friends down here whose babies have had rotavirus. Rotavirus is a nasty virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea with the potential for severe dehydration and death. Very scary. But she just had an ear infection and is all better now. She's back to sleeping through the night (thank goodness!), and she is such a sweet baby girl. We all adore her. Dave arrives on Wednesday and we can hardly wait. He'll be here through the 27th, and I think it will be especially painful to see him go. I'm already dreading it. The kids and I will have to plan something extra fun to do that day so as not to mope around. I hope you enjoyed the pics. Antigua is quite possibly the most beautiful little town there is. I just love it. Thanks for checking in. ~Heather

Sunday, December 10, 2006

We're here!!

We are finally up and running in Antigua and we are so very happy. Soleil is an absolute doll and the kids are adjusting famously. Our house is so cozy, and there are tons of other kids in our complex to play with. We have a Christmas tree (Emerson would have been so sad without one!), and I finally got our DVD player working (Cole actually figured it out). I finally worked out all of the kinks from my computer, and I just spent an hour chatting with Dave online for free! Love GoogleTalk! We start "homeschooling" tomorrow morning at 9AM sharp! We'll see how that goes... I'm remembering what it's like to have an infant easy to forget! And whoever said that 4 is hardly more work than 3 was totally fibbing! It's nonstop! Between the feeding and bathing and changing and feeding again and disciplining and consoling and putting to bed it's absolutely nonstop! I do feel like I'm finally getting my rhythm, though. I guess we all are. We had an actual sit down dinner tonight and the kids (all 4 of them) were in bed by 8PM, as it's a "school night". Soli is an absolute joy and such an easy baby. She has two teeth coming in and had a tough time getting comfortable at bedtime last night (love that advil!), but then she slept through the night. She smiles all the time and talks and laughs at her brothers and sister. She loves it when Cole takes her outside to hang out with all the kids. I bought a hand-me-down baby gym from one of the other moms who's leaving soon, and she loves to lay on that and play with her toys. She's at that sweet age where she reaches for, and wants to try, everything you're eating. I had asked her foster mother to hold off on giving her solids so I guess I'll have to bust out my baby food grinder! That'll be fun! Anyway, these pictures capture a little or our home-sweet-home-away-from-home. I know they're a little overdo but, hey, I've had my hands full! Enjoy!

We ran into Santa in the lobby of the Marriott while we were waiting for our baby. (They had us waiting for over 3 hours. Errr!)

But she finally arrived! And she was just so darling and sweet!

Here she is getting to know her new brothers! They absolutely adore her.

And just like that there were four!!

Reading stories to "the girls" on our first night as a family.

We were all plum tuckered after a VERY long day.

But the next day started rest for the weary! And everyone wanted in on the feeding action!

Evie is adjusting smashingly to big sisterhood. I think coming down in October was helpful in giving her a head start on adjusting. She loves her "baby sisto". Also, having lots of friends to play with has been a helpful distraction.

I could hardly get Soli away from Cole that whole first day! He took her everywhere which turned out to be a huge help because I was rather busy!

Emerson makin' friends and showin' off his new baby. (Nothing like a couple a lightsabers to cross the language barrier!)

Headin' out on the town in a Tuk-tuk. (That's our pink house in the background!)

A few of the "neighborhood" kids enjoying the fruits of their labor. Notice all the full mouths! (Yes, I lugged that Gingerbread House all the way from the's a tradition!)

We picked up this beautiful Christmas tree in Guatemala City before heading to Antigua. But they didn't sell any bases! I mentioned my dilemma to Juan Jose (the caretaker of our complex) and the next day he fashioned me this brilliant Christmas tree stand. It's a five gallon bucket filled with dirt!! He essentially planted our tree in five gallons of dirt! I thought that was brilliant! I don't know if it'll suck up any water, but I water the darn thing daily! I love it!

Like I said, Cole hardly set Soli down for a minute that whole first day. He's been a really big help.

And here she is! Our new baby girl. She's just the cutest thing I've ever seen!

Look at those eyes!

And her first two teeth!

"Yeah! My Daddy's coming in just 10 days!"