You Can Take a Girl Out of the Jungle, But You Can’t Teach Her to Sled


My one faithful blog reader (hi, dad!) complained about the lack of posts since Halloween. I have a few things to share – the rest of the Argentina/Uruguay trip, a trip to China and then all the in-between, but let’s wrap up last year with our 10 days in Idaho at my parent’s house.

Originally, it was just to be our family and my parents, but a last minute event allowed my sister’s family to join us from Ecuador.

It was a little crazy with all the little kids running around, but it was so fun to have the cousins together. IMG_5191

This sledding adventure was near the end of our trip, but I know it was a highlight for J, and definitely memorable.


We tried sledding a couple of years ago, but the kids got cold, and the hill wasn’t that great.

This one turned out to be just perfect, and we finally figured out the secret to sledding: WARM CLOTHES.

How to DO Halloween


This happened.

(Cute, color-coordinated costumes credit goes all to my mom, who hit the stores on Nov. 1 last year to score big for my kids me.)


We trick or treated around our neighborhood. It was great, because there’s no other time when it’s culturally acceptable to walk up to someone’s home and ring the doorbell for no reason. (Unless you’re a salesperson, in which case no one wants you around, anyway.)


In this, our second year knocking on the doors right next to us, it was fun to talk to neighbors who we rarely see, even though they live right down the street.


J was so excited about it, because he truly “got it” this year, that if he’d ring the doorbell of houses that had their lights on, that someone would come to the door and hand him candy. R was kind of freaked about about it, but was still more than happy to keep taking candy after candy out of the bowls.


And finally, my silly pumpkin won a contest! We got a commendation for our use of power tools. Go us.

We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Programming for a Warm Fall Afternoon

Fall in Oklahoma is quite wonderful.


Warm days, cool nights. The afternoons smell like warm leaves. The nights are chilly, so you can bundle up in a warm blanket as you sleep and feel your cold cheeks outside the covers.


The bugs (mostly) die, and it’s actually pleasant to be outside.


The leaves turn goldens and browns. The grasses bloom and grow puffy tops.


We’re right on the edge of a large national forest, and we don’t go there often enough. But today we managed to meet some friends there for a delightful afternoon walk. The kids had a ball running up the trails, picking up sticks and throwing rocks.


And it was good to chat with friends who we don’t get to see often enough.


It was wonderful and refreshing.


And then on the way home the baby threw up all over her car seat and me, of course.
Too much perfection and we couldn’t grow as people, right?


Pumpkin Love


This is what happens when you ask my children to pose with a pumpkin.


Or this kinda bad-school-photo look.

For our jack-o-lantern this year, we went quick and easy.


One pumpkin, one dad, one drill.


One black spoon for scooping; which I’ve never seen again. It’s somewhere in the abyss of my backyard. (I blame the one-year-old.) And I regret it every time I want to stir-fry.


Another thing that’s gone missing since these photos were taken is the fancy FitBit watch in the above photo, but that’s another story.


We ended up with a simple orb of lights to add welcome to our entryway.



And for the first few days, this guy hung around, adding authentic creepiness to our front steps.


Paint Choices and Street Markets


I suppose we did our Argentina visit a little different than most. We didn’t do tango or polo. And because we weren’t there very long, we didn’t do Iguazu. (But let’s pretend we did, thanks to this BA fountain.)


But we walked. I could have just walked and looked at buildings for days. It got to be almost overwhelming how there was amazing architecture everywhere.


We hit the streets on our second day there. We worked out that since it was a Sunday, the presidential palace (a.k.a. Casa Rosada) was open to the public. So we made our way down there, by subway and then on foot.


We ran into a random Polish festival, and possibly a political protest after that.


The Pink House was cool, though the most amazing part about it is that distinctive color. Not quite pink, not quite coral.


The inside was interesting, but the wait for an official tour was something like 45 minutes, so we looked around, checked out gifts to Argentina from the various socialist presidents in the region, then headed back to the street for our next destination.



The thing to do on a Sunday in BA is the San Telmo street market. Part swap meet, part handicrafts, part antiques and 100 percent packed.


My European husband was aghast at the number of Nazi paraphernalia being sold by vendors, like pins, coins and tie clips.


The market runs for blocks and culminates at the Plaza Dorrego, a small plaza ringed with cafes and restaurants. On Sunday, it fills to the brim with antiques hawkers (and tourists).


There was live music all along the way, and vendors of every kind. We stopped for pizza about two-thirds of the way down, and it seemed like every other tourist was Brazilian. So, as we do, we eavesdropped on the family next to us to try to work on our Portuguese.

Cafe Culture


We Americans have totally lost the linger and chat vibe in our culture. 1) We have things to do, and 2) the restaurants don’t want us hanging around anyway, because they want to fill the table with new customers and make more money.

I reflected on this this morning in church, as I watched people clutch Styrofoam coffee cups in hand. We drink our coffee as we’re doing something, as a means to an end, rather than sitting. Drinking. Savoring.

Nope, we’re always in a hurry, always multi-tasking.

In Buenos Aires, there were cafes on nearly every corner, where people sat. And talked. Read newspapers. Smoked. And stared into the nothing. But mostly it was a social thing, with two or three friends discussing politics or entertainment.

And the servers are in no hurry to move anyone along.


We, on the other hand, have drive-throughs in our coffee shops.

Buenos Aires: Eating all the Foods


Let’s start with that sucker there: the all-famous alfajor. Two shortbread cookies, a smear of delicious dulce de leche, and sometimes a little coconut or something else on the edges. Ubiquitous, and available everywhere, but not without good reason.


Oh, hi, that day we ventured into the countryside and found this delightful cafe on the square. I ordered the plate of regional meats and cheeses, and let me tell you: #winning. The husband’s lunch was good, but mine was all rich cheeses, salty meats, and luscious crusty bread. Of which I ran out of far before the meat and cheese. #tragedy

Also, see above: the empanada. I grew up eating these lovely little hand pies, but every South American nation has their twist. I suppose it’s become a bit of a personal mission to try one in every country. Chile, yours are good, but I don’t know about the raisins.

(Side note: remember this sucker?)

Back to Argentina, we can’t forget the national drink, mate.


It’s basically green tea, but there’s a whole lore and method and social structure that goes along with it.

We sampled that mate at the ultimate Argentine food experience, quite aptly named: The Argentine Experience.

You guys: DO THIS.

It was so fun. Outgoing staff prepare and introduce you to all the Argentine classics (empanadas, wine, steak, alfajores and mate) in true gourmet fashion, with a side of culture thrown in. Like, I’ve had mate before, I’ve shared it with Argentinos, Uruguayanos and Lebanese people before. I know you don’t move the straw, and it’s bitter, and you add hot water over and over to the tea leaves, but at AE, they give you the whole run down of what it means socially to the culture. I also credit AE with finally teaching me how to cook a steak (even though I’ve read it a hundred times in magazines and recipe blogs, tasting the amazing result made it stick in my head. BRING ME ALL THE STEAKS.

In summary, AE is like having dinner with good friends who introduce you to everything you need to know about the culture. They said they were in talks to develop a similar venture in Barcelona, so hey, maybe that should be my next stop.


My dad and aunt grew up eating at this places when their family lives in Argentina/Uruguay for a couple of years, and with a name like “French-Fry Palace”, how can you go wrong? I was sure to track one down. And even though I knew about the late Latino hours, it was still surprising to see all the restaurants open late into the evenings, with the places packed. Also, probably the most common BA fast food is pizza. It seemed like you couldn’t walk more than 20 feet before hitting the next take-away pizza place.

And now, in our culinary tour, I’d like to pause for a moment to honor the one that will nearly always have my heart:


The factura filled with dulce de leche. Trust me: I tried all the kinds, and every morning I still returned to this dear love.


All the kinds.


Those kinds were pretty, but dry.


Mine, and his.


And excellent start to a day of exploration.