Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Jungle Doctor

Off he goes . . . Rhett is heading to the jungle of Peru to work on his research in Malaria as part of his Fellowship training. He will be leaving next week and will be gone for a little over three weeks. We cringe at the idea of him being gone for so long but we know we are "taking this one for the team" and ultimately it will be a wonderfully fruitful experience for him. Please pray for his health and safety as he rides a motorcycle around the Amazon jungle to examine patients for this clinical research project. Rhett is always up for a good adventure but he is struggling with leaving us for so long. He a C are VERY close and this will be tough on both of them. Several times a day she looks at me and says something like this "Daddy's at work. He has on a tie. Daddy drives to work. Daddy be home soon. I give Daddy big kiss and hug. Daddy swing Claire". It is so sweet to see how much they adore each other (about as much as I adore both of them!)

I don't even know how to approach this with her. Someone asked me what I was going to tell her and I replied "I guess I'm just going to tell her that he is in Peru and will be home as soon as he can". She can pick Peru out on the map so I've started telling her excitedly "That's where Daddy is going!" and she smiles and says "Noooo!" (as in how silly of you to think something like that!).
Anyway, that's the hot topic of conversation around here lately as we prepare for him to go. No doubt he will have some great stories and hopefully some great research data when he gets home. We miss him already!

Oh - he will be in Iquitos (see map above). There are no roads there either a boat up the river or an airplane. Rhett will be going by plane but he will have to arrive early in the morning or late at night. Apparently there is a problem with vultures on the runways at the airport so they have to time flights around the birds in order to prevent a disaster on the runway (bird vs. plane). The other picture is one of a typical area of Iquitos during the wet season (now). I check the weather down there high: 86 heat index: 96 Not bad for February!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Let it Snow!!!

Yeah! Claire's first snowfall! Doc and Jo Jo are here to enjoy it with her. Claire made a snowman that she quickly stomped and learned how to throw snowballs at her Mommy (thanks to her Daddy). Ford slept through the whole thing!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Going to the grocery store

I went to the grocery without the kids the other night and it was very odd. First of all I couldn't park in the "Expecting or New Mom" parking spot that I been able to claim for most of the past three years. As I grabbed my buggy I spotted something out of the corner of my eye sitting in the corner - it was one of those little baskets they have available for single people to use when they shop. I can not remember the last time I shopped with one of those baskets. It's so . . . well, small. You surely can't fit a mega box of Huggies in there so they aren't an option for me any more.

As I shopped I noticed the people who were carrying those little baskets around the store. Several college students and a few old people who could still manage to carry one the distance around the store. I used to fit all my groceries for an entire week in one of those baskets!! Then I got married and I graduated to a full-sized cart. Then I started having babies . . .

Having one baby and grocery shopping is a breeze. You can prop the pumpkin seat in the seating area and glide around the store while everyone oos and aahs over how precious your quietly sleeping baby is (your baby is precious because you were able to carefully time your trip to the store right after a feeding so the child is content and darling to all passerbys). Then an even better day arrives: your baby can sit up in the cart! No more lugging that ridiculous seat around! Your cutie pie smiles and babbles with all the old ladies in the store making you feel like a wonderful and proud mother. Once they start talking to everyone in sight you are the hit of the store. Especially when they turn up the cute factor and say hello or something really darling to everyone you pass in the aisle. Eventually #2 arrives and the seating problems start. Where are the carts designed for a toddler and a pumpkin seat? Don't bother looking because they don't exist. Now you must sacrifice your actual grocery space in the main buggy to hold the pumpkin seat which takes the entire space while the toddler rides in the seat. This means you must utilize all of the lower shelf-thing, stack food around the baby and bribe your little one to hold various items. As much as possible I put the baby in the Baby Bjorn (a must have for me) so I actually have a cart to put groceries in. We were plugging along with our various shopping systems when Rhett took Claire to the store one day and everything changed . . .
I had been avoiding the big green race car shopping carts for a while. Claire didn't even know that they existed - ignorance was bliss for me. Well, that all ended when Rhett made his first trip to the grocery store in about 4 years and quickly introduced Claire to the big obnoxious cart. Once you go to the race car there is no going back. The first time I had to drive the thing I encountered two college girls (carrying their little baskets with fun stuff like sushi and hummus in them) who were commenting on how cute the kids were and talking to Claire. They were very nice but I could tell that when they saw us coming they made a mental promise that they would never drive one of those bohemeths around the grocery store no matter what their kids wanted.

It doesn't seem like that long ago that I had that little basket with fun food in it and I was standing in the aisle with my roommate investigating the caloric content of something while in my workout shorts because I had just (gasp) exercised. I lamented the fact that I was the race car driver and they were the hottie college girls for about 10 minutes. Then I realized that even then I wanted to have a cart full of kids to push around the grocery store. I have gladly turned in the keys to my 2 door car and my size 2 jeans and moved on to bigger and better things (no pun intended). Those two girls have no idea of the wonderful fulfilling life experiences that are to come. So for now I will happily drive the race car because I know there will be a sad day when there will be no little one begging me to drive it and I will go back to shopping with a little basket and telling all the young moms how cute their babies are.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Look out South America - here we come!

Well, after conquering 5 continents individually and North America as a family we have decided to take on a new challenge. Look out South America - here we come! Rhett has been accepted to the Gorgas Course for Tropical Medicine for 2009! (There is a link in Favorite sites for those of you with too much time on your hands). We are thrilled at this incredible honor and opportunity for him to receive incredible training in tropical medicine. He is one of 24 students that were accepted from all over the world to participate in the course. Most of them have signifcant overseas experience and have done some pretty amazing and intersting things. Some of them have been practicing medicine for 30 years and others, like Rhett, are Fellows - just getting started. Many of them have done at least one rotation with Doctors Without Borders in some pretty crazy places. It sounds like we will have some interesting new friends from all over the world!
Next year at this time we will pack up and head to Peru for 10 weeks! We will be based in Lima but will be traveling to Cusco (near Machu Picchu) and Iquitos (in the middle of the Amazon jungle!) for field trips. Rhett may possibly be doing some additional research in malaria for another month or two and that would be in Iquitos as well. You can find Iquitos on the map above - just look in the middle of the dark green area (that's the jungle) and you will find the biggest city in the world with no roads leading to it! Due to it's location in the jungle you have to either fly there or take a boat up the river (Amazon that is). Pretty cool! We are really excited and ready to start planning our big adventure!

The course is really intense academically. Rhett will be working and studying very hard while we are there so he can take yet another test to get his diploma in Tropical Medicine. I am going to try to attend language school while we are there. Anyone who went to high school with me will find this mildy hilarious because I have detested Spanish since the first day of 8th grade. However, I now desperately want to have a second language. I know that this is not the time of life to start persuing that dream but I'm going to give it a shot. I have found a Spanish immersion international preschool for the kids to attend while I am in class. I am really excited about them have such an enriching experience at such a young age so they will hopefully be able to pick it up quickly. Claire started taking Spanish lessons last week to get her feet wet. It's just a 45 minute class once a week where they are immersed in Spanish playing games and singing songs. Claire is picking it up quickly - she left the class saying "adios!" and now knows her colors in Spanish just from that one class (I wish my brain was a sponge like that!). She translates through English though ("Azul - that's blue" then she will point to it). It won't be long before she and Ford are plotting against us in a language we can't understand!
I have affectionatley nicknamed this particular adventure "Step 1" which obviously will be followed by "Step 2" - stay tuned for more details on that. But obviously Step 1 is preparation for Step 2 so you can kind of see where this might be headed . . .

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Thursday, January 03, 2008

I have a 2 year old!

To celebrate Claire's big #2 we went out for Mexican food and she had a cupcake! Yesterday we transformed our house into a winter wonderland and had a "Snowflake" party. Those pictures have yet to be downloaded but I'll work on it. Claire's favorite thing in all the world is birthday cake. She loved every bite of it! She went around singing "Happy Birthday" to herself all day on her birthday and everytime we said "Happy Birthday" to her she said "I'm two!" and tried to hold up two fingers.
The other picture is of Ford so everyone can see how adorable he is! He is just as sweet as he is cute! I know hard to imagine but it's true.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I'm a little behind on blogging considering how much has been going on the past couple of weeks!
We started our Christmas celebrations by heading up to the mountains of North Carolina to "Shirley Ridge" - Rhett's parents new home. We had a couple days of fun with his family where Mac and Claire got to play with each other or around each other! We came home to Birmingham for Christmas and my parents drove over for Christmas Eve and morning. We managed to take both kids to the 8pm Christmas Eve service (it's the only one we have - whose idea is that anyway? Obviously no one with small children!). We made it through the service with some creative moves on our part and ended it with a high five to celebrate our parenting feat!
We opened lots of wonderful gifts on Christmas morning. The picture of Claire above is her in Mommy's snazzy new double stroller a Phil and Teds Sport Buggy! It's really cool and she couldn't help but smile when I put her in it. I went back and forth on what kind of "jogging" stroller to get (they do make non-jogging jogging strollers just for people like me). I found the Phil and Teds and it seemed perfect considering how much international travel we are planning in the next few years. We needed something that could whiz around airports and museums and monuments with out being too big. I wish I had more tech savvy so I could put a link or something so you could see how cool this stroller is. Rhett is disturbed by the fact that we now own 4 strollers (single, single jogger, double umbrella and now double non-jogging jogger) and asked me if we have started a new tradition of getting a new stroller with more seats every year for Christmas. Watch out for what you wish for Rhett . . . I've got my eye on a triple! HA!
Claire gave Ford a hippo for Christmas - I'm hoping it becomes his Bunny. He is doing so well. Just as sweet as he can be. We took him in for his 2 month check right before Christmas - he was 14 lbs 2 oz!! Could he possibly have gained 6 lbs in two months?? He definitely has some chub on but he doesn't look really roly poly- he just looks like a six month old.
Claire is having a blast playing in her new kitchen that she got for Christmas and her new dollhouse she got for her birthday. I'll post on her birthday next . . .