Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Crossing My Fingers!

Have you ever noticed that when you really, really, really want something in seems like it takes forever to find the perfect one??!! I've contact a million people about my little something and every minute that passes is like an eternity waiting for an answer!!! Gahh...I need to focus on other things!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Date Night

Life has been quite busy since we got back from our wonderful trip to the US and Mexico. I was worried that I would have post-vacation depression. I mean, how can you not have it after being in the beautiful Colorado summer, with family, eating comida rica and of course having a dream honeymoon and then having to come home to work long hours, to cold, smoggy and cloudy days?! But I am quite surprised that my anticipated depression is much less than what I thought it would be. It is true that lately I have been missing home and sometimes I wish it was still June, but overall I have been too busy to notice the difference. It just seems like June was a dream that you remember vividly....but I can say the same that when I was in the US, life in Chile seemed like a dream too. Like it never really existed.

In any case the whole point is that Christian and I have been occupied with catching up with friends, seeing family, working, and taking care of our (more like MY) Chile to-do list. What we both have missed is spending all day, every day with each other like we did for all of June. It really affects our relationship to be able to spend so much time together and then barely see each other. So we decided to have a date night once a week where we don't get on our computers after work, we don't watch TV (unless we are planning on seeing a movie together) and we just spend some quality time together. We decided that it doesn't have to be anything fancy like going out to eat, because the point is to be together and if we can do that here at home, it's all good.

We started last Monday and made dinner together. Yesterday we made once and watched Twilight (Crepúsculo). It was a good movie! Tonight we kind of had an impromptu date night because we decided to go get some food after work which gave us time to chat about the various decisions that we need to be making (paint our apartment, look for a new apartment, Christmas plans with my parents, our interview with a possible nana tomorrow, etc.). Right now of course we are both on our computers....but since it wasn't official date night I guess that is ok! I had to translate a friend's CV into English and Christian is working on the new project. We should be unveiling it pretty soon so keep close!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Update on Joaquin--He's Going Home Tomorrow!

Little Joaquin is doing much better after his first surgery. He wasn't able to go home last Monday after his surgery because they could only operate on 1 vocal chord and still had the other one to do. He also had to stabilize a bit because when they took his breathing tubes out last Saturday, he was running a fever for several days. They did every sort of test on him that they could and everything was coming out normal, but with a fever, they couldn't operate again. Finally on Tues. or Wed. they figured out that it was a urinary tract infection causing the fever which on one hand was great news because it wasn't something respiratory and it is easy to take care of.

So Saturday they took him to surgery to see how his throat was healing. I guess they found him in good condition because they decided to operate on his other vocal chord and now he really does get to go home tomorrow! This is wonderful news as he has been in the hospital, in ICU, for 3 weeks now. He still has a long road of recovery ahead...he has to learn how to walk again, etc. because the paralyzing drugs really took their toll on him. But he is past the worst. He can't go back to jardín (pre-school) because of the high risk of getting sick from the other children, so now he will stay at home with a nana while Silvana works. We are all so happy that Joaquin made it through and thanks to you all who kept him and Silvana in your thoughts!!!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Wedding Recap: Our Photographs & Photographer

Ok, so I was going to try and write about wedding topics in some sort of chronological order and leave the pictures for last...but I just CAN’T hold off any more!!! We are so pumped about our pictures that I just have to share.

For us, our wedding photography was a priority because we wanted someone who would capture every moment of our special day in a creative and beautiful way. We decided that we would “splurge” on the photography because it was that important to us. And let me tell you, we have NOT been disappointed. We were in Mexico on our honeymoon when Krista sent us the link to her blog where she had posted some of our wedding pictures. We about screamed when we saw them...they are amazing and totally worth everything we fact, they are worth more than that. They are priceless.

I have nothing but praise for our wedding photographer Krista, of Artessa Photography. We choose her after comparing many photographers and taking our time reviewing their websites and getting in contact with them. We asked Krista to meet with us over Skype when we had narrowed it down to her as our first choice and were so happy when we just clicked! She is the same age as me, but she’s got so much experience behind her belt plus a natural talent that just can’t be beat. In fact, if we had gotten married here in Chile versus in Colorado, we TOTALLY would have flown her down here! She is THAT good. She is easy to work with, super nice, very professional and just does all around astounding work.

Ok, enough chatter, here are some of my faves from her blog:

I asked for this picture to be taken because I love the shoe pictures that I saw on wedding blogs. I searched up and down to find Christian those socks!

Krista, we just wanted to say THANK YOU for doing such an amazing job. We are pumped to see the rest of the images! You are awesome!!!

P.S. Krista also posted some pictures from our engagement session that we had the week before our wedding. We took them at Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. Here are a couple of my favorites from that shoot too:

I really like this picture because I think it is a great shot, but I also find it kind of funny because I look possessed thanks to the angle of my eyes. Hahaha...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Making Progress One Check At A Time

When we arrived in Santiago after our joyous trip to the US, one of the first things I did was to make a list of all the things I needed to take care of. My huge wedding to-do list had been swapped out for a Chile to-do list. I’ve been working on the list since the beginning of the month and am making some progress, but seriously, some things me dan lata and others drive me up the wall. Like trying to figure out why my bank is all of the sudden charging me a large monthly fee when supposedly I have a plan with a convenio because I signed up through my work. This entails me calling my ejecutiva repeatedly and asking her what the hell the charge is for. Ok, so the first time I called 2 weeks ago, I was perfectly nice about it and I asked her to check into it because they aren’t supposed to be charging me a dime, er, peso. Never heard anything. So I called again this morning. “Oh, they never sent you an email?” she said, acting surprised. “No, I never received an email. What is the deal with this charge?” I asked politely. And then she proceeded to give me some crap answer...and while she was talking I looked at my account online and saw they had charged me again. So I told her, in a patience-less voice “They charged me again. I think it is a lot of money and I am not happy about paying it since this is supposed to be a free bank account. Please check into it and get them to reverse the charges or I will return to my other bank.” Supposedly I will be getting a phone call from her with more explanations and results of her work. However, I have already put on my calendar that on Friday morning I need to call her and find out what the deal is.

Then there is trying to get my AFP situation straightened out. Oh god what a mess. I swear to you and the whole world that anyone who works for AFP Provida is a freaking idiot. I am SO sick of that damn AFP. I just wish I could tell them to shove it (not like it would matter to them)...but I can’t change AFP until everything with my account gets fixed.

Luckily, sending off my application for Permanent Residency went well (or at least I think it did, I am waiting for them to get back to me) and adding pages to my passport was super easy. One thing I really need to get done, but really don’t want to have to do, is find a nana. Yes, I have sold out. I am getting a nana to come clean my house once per week because I abhor cleaning. So if I can pay someone else to do it, all the better. The problem is that I don’t want to call the list of possible nanas I made and see if they are available, willing to work the hours we are asking (which admittedly are a bit out of the norm), etc. In fact, if you know a nana who is willing to work one day a week at my house, around 3 or 4 hours, just doing cleaning (no cooking needed), either during the weekday evenings (like 6:30ish) or on a Sunday evening…let me know! I know they are strange hours but 1. I prefer not to have a stranger who only comes over once per week alone in my house when my husband or I am not there (and obviously with keys to the house) and 2. we prefer not to have them come on a Saturday because we travel to Viña sometimes so we’d always be rescheduling. Ideally it would be a weekday evening, heck we might even be able to spread it out over 2 nights. And we are willing to pay well for the hours being a bit outside the normal working hours.

Ok, that was my nana plug. I better get busy. Christian and I have got a great project in the works...I’ll let you in on the secret soon!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I hate it when it rains in Chile

Well, let me re-phrase that, I ate it when it rains in Chile AND I actually have to leave my house and go somewhere. Why? Because you inevitably get wet and never get to dry off. I had to actually take a shower when I got home to warm up! Gotta love winters with no "real" heaters.

On the flip side, the air I breath tomorrow (assuming it is done raining) will be so fresh and clean that I will forget I live in one of the most contaminated cities in the world.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Wedding Recap: Bachelorette Party & Bridal Shower

Now, I just have to say that I have great friends and family who planned me awesome an awesome bachelorette party and a wonderful bridal shower! Both events really made me feel special and to tell you the truth, it is so awesome to feel that way before the wedding. Why? Because normally the bride is doing so much preparation work that sometimes it is easy to feel a bit forgotten. Like “OMG the table clothes have to be perfect and that silverware isn’t the right design, and jeeze I’m never going to find the right candle color!” It is easy to forget that people just want to celebrate in the joyous event that is your wedding because they love you...not all the little details. So thank you to Heather who did a great job with the bach party here in Chile, the girls who came to the party (it was great to see you all!), to my Mother who slaved over the Bridal Shower, Sherry & Nina who helped my mom with the preparations, and my Bridesmaids who did a great job at helping with the shower and not to mention the fun games!!!

Bachelorette Party
Date: May 8, 2009
Location: Catedral Restaurant/Bar, Santiago, Chile

The best thing about this party was getting to see my favorite girlfriends! It had literally been months (since 2008!) since I had seen Emily, Sarah, and Lydia which is just kind of crazy considering we all live in the same city (well, except for Lydia). I guess 2009 just started off as a crazy-busy year for everyone...but I was so glad that they all took the time to come celebrate with me. Luckily, I get to see Heather and Verónica on a fairly frequent basis and Rochelle, a fellow CU Buff & Deltasig, even stopped by which was great.

(L-R: Me, Heather, Verónica, Lydia)

It was a chill bachelorette party, just what I was hoping for, with fun conversation, great food, delish drinks and complete with the feather boas, mardi gras beads and penis straws & leis. Let me just say that the pisco sours at Catedral were to die for and while I liked the taste of the Ceaser salad, it did not like me very much as it gave me at stomach ache later in the evening. We also got an order of French fries (my vice in this country) and those just topped off the evening.

The girls all gave me a cute little card with beautiful messages inside, some sexy black lingerie and chocolate!

(L-R: Sarah, Rochelle, Emily)

Bridal Shower
Date: May 31, 2009
Location: Sherry’s House, Colorado, USA

(L-R: my sister, me, my mom)

I told my mom and bridesmaids from the beginning that I didn’t want to know a thing about the Bridal Shower...I wanted a complete surprise and while that might have made them nervous, they did such an amazing job and I loved it all!!!

(L-R: Staci, me, Nichelle, my sister)

My parents’ neighbors, who are good family friends, took me with them to the shower since it was about an hour away from where my parents live. My mom and sister went early to set up and I didn’t want to go with them because that would have obviously ruined the surprise. So we pulled up to Sherry’s house and walked in to the beautifully decorated living room. The shower’s theme was like spring picnic, and they had thought of it all! The tables had beautiful flower centerpieces, with little favors for each lady that were mini ceramic pots and a packet of flower seeds as well as a little ladybug magnet. My mom also came up with this creative idea to get everyone to sign a piece of fabric with their name and also write a message if they wanted, which I believe will all be going onto a quilt.

(Flower pots for each guest)

(Fabric signing)

I had bought a new dress for the shower and had to go change into it since I didn’t want to get it all wrinkly in the car. While I was finishing getting ready, my cousin Nichelle came in to ask me some questions and observe what I was wearing. It was for some games that she had planned in which gifts would be given away to the winners. She told me that there would be a game where I would have to pose in front of everyone so they could see what I was wearing, etc. and that before I got up, to change my engagement ring to a different finger.

Again, the best part about this shower was all of the people who came—friends who I have known since 5th grade who drove 3 hours just to come, aunts, grandmas, cousins and other friends who I hadn’t seen in at least a year, if not more. We had a really good turn out, I think around 25 ladies came.

(L-R: Danielle, Rhonda, Emily, Me, Staci)

For lunch, we had sandwiches that each person could make & personalize along with veggies and fruit. My mom made this bomb fruit dip from cream cheese and probably lots of was to die for. She had also made a spinach dip for the veggies and crackers. Oh man...I couldn’t keep my hands out of it! To drink, they had brewed several different kinds of iced tea. My favorite was the strawberry-kiwi, but as you know anything strawberry is my fave.

After lunch we began to play some games. Sherry handed out pens and Nichelle instructed me to do my little pose and turn so the ladies could observe me and then I had to leave the room. She then proceeded to ask everyone what I was wearing, if I had on earrings, if so, what did they look like, how was my hair done, what color of shoes was I wearing, and where was my engagement ring. The person who got the most right would win a gift. So after everyone had written their answers, I came back in so Nichelle could read off the answers and prove what I was wearing. Hahaha...the fact that I had changed my ring onto a different finger threw everyone off and was hilarious.

The next game we played was one in which we had to all sit in a circle. There were a couple wrapped gifts that would be passed around to the right or left according to when Nichelle would say those words in the story she was about to tell. The story was called “Mr. Right” or something like that and although it was generic, she had tailored it a bit more to fit me and Christian’s story. The combination of the two was quite funny. When the end of the story came around, the people who had the gifts in hand were the winners.

After the Mr. Right game, it was time for dessert. Ohhh did my mom go over the top for dessert! She had made 4 different pies, each one to die for. There was a frozen yogurt pie with blackberries on top, a cherry cheesecake, a frozen pink lemonade pie, and a lemon pie with blueberries on top. I ate two slices the pink lemonade pie. I wish I would have tried the others too, but I just couldn’t eat any more after lunch and the other two pieces.

(Bridesmaids Nichelle & Staci serving up pie)

While the guests were eating dessert (I had long finished), it was time to open up gifts. Most were cards with giftcards to my favorite stores (hooray for shopping!), and some were wrapped gifts. Paula gave me this awesome wine connoisseur basket that had a bottle of wine, some beautifully painted wine glasses (she did it herself), pot holders, kitchen towels and I don’t even know what else...but all with little wine designs. It was amazing! My Aunt Shane & cousin Michala gave me a beautiful photo album and some bath products. My second-cousin Eileen gave me a beautiful wedding scrapbook from Hallmark. My sister found some cute pink lingerie and my mom, just the opposite, a flannel robe. She had wanted to find like head-to-toe flannel pajamas as a gag gift, but those sorts of pjs aren’t really in the stores in May. I do love the robe though because I actually didn’t have one and it is def necessary in winter time in Chile. Sherry gave me some beautiful damask printed things—two coffee mugs, a clutch wallet and an apron (love it all!). My best friend Staci bought me a beautiful heart-shaped pink keychain made of ostrich leather all the way from South Africa. Nichelle gave me a beautiful apron that is brown with pink polka dots. I bought it to Chile with me. And the gift that got the most laughs was from my good friend Rhonda, who decided to go the kinky route :) She got me some super sexy black and red lingerie, some boxers for Christian (that are like miniature in size and you put them in water and they grow), some Hershey’s chocolate syrup and some whipped cream in a can. I about died of laughter when opening up that one.

(Left: lingerie from my sister; Right: robe from my mom)

After the gifts had been unwrapped, there were a few more games to play. This time, though, the joke was on me. Nichelle had contacted Christian and asked him 13 questions and now she was going to ask me the same questions and I had to respond with what I thought Christian told her. If I got any questions wrong, I had to chew a piece of bubblegum (and keep adding more bubblegum if I missed more questions). I ended up having to eat 4 pieces of gum, which out of 13, I don’t think is that bad...hahahaha. What a good one. I definitely wasn’t expecting that. Sometimes I edited myself from saying what I really thought he had said and sure enough, I should have just gone with my gut feeling.

(About the 3rd piece of gum)

All in all it was an awesome afternoon. Staci & Nichelle made everyone some cute bookmarks to take with them in addition to their flower pots. I got to take pictures with everyone who had come and was so happy to see them all.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Update on Joaquin's Status

Good news is on the way!

Joaquin's surger went well on Wednesday night, better than what the doctors had anticipated. Originally they had planned on keeping him on the ventilator until Monday and then seeing if he could breathe on his own, but after the surgery they said it would be Saturday (tomorrow) instead. Of course, we don't want to get our hopes up, but the fact that the surgery went well and the doctors are anticipating a faster recovery with respect to breathing on his own is a good sign.

Once they take him off the ventilator, he will still have to be in the hospital a few more days to make sure all is well before going home. So although we aren't in the clear-all phase....we're getting there. Silvana is doing much better as well. It was pure torture for her to see her son so sick.

Please continue to think about these two and keep them in your prayers. There is a long road of recovery ahead of them both, but so far so good. :)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

This Little Boy Needs Your Buenas Ondas

A co-worker of mine has a 4 year old boy who is very ill in the ICU and has been for the past week and a half. Now, before I delve into the story of why he is there, I just want to ask all of you out there to pray for him as he will be entering into surgery today at 7pm Santiago time (which is the same as Eastern Time in the US). If you aren't religious, please just keep him in your throughts and send both him and his mom lots of buenas ondas (good vibes) and fuerza (strength). Please keep him in your thoughts and hearts throughout the day, this evening, and rest of the week because even if surgery goes well tonight...this won't be the end of the tough road.

Joaquin has a rare disease where the HPV virus (yes the one that can cause cervical cancer) is actually active on his vocal cords. No one knows how he got it and I’m not even sure how Silvana (his mom) found out about it in the first place. In any case, actual warts grow on his vocal cords and depending on the size of the warts and the strain of the virus that a person has, surgery to remove them might or might not be necessary. Joaquin had his first surgery in early May to remove the warts that had already installed themselves, making his voice crack and be very soft for a 4 year old. The surgery went well and they biopsied the warts to see which strain of HPV that he has—turns out, he has one of the worst strains, the ones that cause cancer. All of this means that he will have to have medical controls for life in an effort to stay on top of the situation and if any more warts grow...all of which will have to be eventually removed.

His recovery after the surgery had been steady and quite quickly, although of course his vocal cords still had some recovering to do. On July 5th, he became very ill with what seemed like a terrible cold except that his mom noticed that he was barely breathing. So at 4am, she rushed him to the hospital closest to her house to see what was wrong. Turns out that in addition to a new wart (or perhaps multiple) popping up again, his airways were so inflamed that his literally only had the size of half of a straw to breathe through. He was immediately tubed and sent to the ICU where he has been every since, with more and more tubes and wires connecting to his body day after day.

On top of the warts coming back, the doctors realized that he was sick with the H1N1 (Swine) Flu which was reeking havoc in that little body. It caused him to come down with pneumonia and then bronchial pneumonia within 2 days time of actually being in the hospital. While the swine flu may be nothing more than the normal flu for healthy people, for those with already-existing sickness or those with low immune systems, it is terrible.

Last week, he was starting to get better on Wednesday and Thursday and had a fall on Friday where he just got worse all of the sudden. Luckily they were able to get him stabilized on Saturday and all throughout the weekend he was making good progress. Tuesday (yesterday) was somewhat of the defining moment as the doctors took him to the operation room to see how his throat was progressing and see if they could take him off the artificial ventilator which has been breathing for him all this time. They also wanted to see how big the warts are to decide if surgery was necessary right away or if it could wait so that he could be transferred to Clinica Las Condes which has better technology for the surgery. The poor little guy has not only been connected to the machine that breathes for him, but on heavy medications such as morphine and anti-virals against the swine flu in addition to being paralyzed and sedated most of the time. He can only be fed through his IV because with the paralysis and sedation, his stomach and intestines cannot digest food. Nurses come in daily to do physical therapy so that his little limbs do not atrophy but he is already showing signs that it is increasingly difficult to move with every coming day. So getting him off the ventilator and the drugs are a high priority because if not, they can leave terrible after effects.

Yesterday we got the unfortunate news that Joaquin must be operated on as soon as possible, that there are no chances of him being transferred to the other hospital and that today, at 7pm, he will go into surgery. It is a delicate surgery not only because of this critical condition of not being able to breathe himself, but the doctors must be meticulous and right-on when they are removing the warts as interference with the vocal cords can cause him to lose his voice. As long as removing the warts helps with the inflammation and opens his airways a bit more, he is “good to go”. But, in the event that it isn’t enough, they will perform a tracheotomy. Can you even imagine that? A 4 year old with a tracheotomy just to breathe. It just breaks my heart to even have to think that is an option—at least it is the last resort.

So that is why I am asking for your support.....for your prayers, thoughts, strength, peace, faith, hope and anything else you can send your way. If you want to put a link to this post on your own blog to help spread the word, feel free. Or email your friends and family and ask for their support. Anything to get more and more people to be thinking about this little guy and his mom.

The one beautiful thing that I have seen come out of this whole situation is the unity and caring that has come from my place of employment. I have never seen a group of people, all unrelated (in the sense of not being a biological family) come together like we have at my work. We get together every morning at 9am to pray for Joaquin and Silvana...most people are Catholic, but those of us with other beliefs still go and we do our special thing silently while the rest of the group prays aloud. We started a chain of prayers to do on our own time at 8:30am and 8:30pm every day. We set up a schedule of who would go visit Silvana in the hospital over the weekend so that not too many of us would show up at once and overwhelm her. When Joaquin had his fall on Friday, we immediately got together to pray once again and send all the strength that we had. Many tears were shed and you could just see on everyone’s faces that they are in that room because they are genuinely concerned, not just because they “should” be there. Yesterday we did the same before the doctors took him to the operating room and today we will do the same. The support isn't just emotionally and spiritually (although sometimes this is what matters most), we will also be helping with the medical bills because we know that between the previous operation and the 10-day-plus stay in ICU plus this second operation will max out Silvana’s insurance coverage. We have already decided on paying for a separate nurse to care 100% for Joaquin when he leaves the ICU and is in the normal part of the hospital that way he has all of his needs met immediately and Silvana can rest assured that the worst has passed. I have never seen such support and it makes me proud to work with the people I do because I know that we are really there for each other.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I'm baaaaack!

And I have been for almost 2 weeks now. You might have been wondering where I have been for the past 3 months...although maybe not. In any case I am back and in more ways than one. I am back in Chile. I am back to work. I am back to blogging. I'm back to a lot of things.

So just why did I fall off the face of blogging? Well for one thing, this is my 100th post and way back in April when I wrote my 99th post, I decided that I wanted to save a "cool" entry for the 100th post. As you can see, since I was in the midst of wedding planning and preparation for my trip to the US, I obviously didn't have time for the cool post I wanted to do and thus I never did it! Since my want to celebrate this baby milestone of my blog caused me a huge gap in writing, I have decided I will no longer celebrate blog milestones. I mean, really, who cares if it is your 500th post?

Now I know you are all dying to hear about the wedding, see pictures, and read about our trip to the US & Mexico...all of which is coming in good time--I promise. I've got more stuff in store too, like our plans for the future, what is going on here in Chile, and all the other crazy things that run through my head. Seriously--I've got about 5 solid business ideas and I'm going nuts trying to think how I can pull them all off. We'll just have to see how things go.

Stay tuned for more...

Disclaimer—La Chilengüita is a blog created upon my personal experiences and which expresses my personal opinion that in no way represents the views my employer, family or friends.