Jun 26, 2011

Birthday Letter

Dear Radha and Prasad,

You have been on my mind for several weeks and I am happy to finally have an opportunity to write to you again. It is remarkable to me that Haley has grown and learned so much in only 6 months. Her personality has not changed so much as it has been enriched by new skills and language. She is still a delightful and energetic young girl, and quite charming too. We will post new photos and videos soon for you to see.

We had an eventful first Australian summer. You may have heard about the 100-year flooding in Queensland earlier this year, because I suspect that it made world news. The early images of flash flooding that circulated the media represented isolated events in the area. For the rest of us, the floods came very slowly and with a calm determination. We live in one of the suburbs that was largely affected, but our townhouse is at just a high enough elevation that the water only reached to the adjacent park.

According to the Australian government, we were technically “flood affected” only because our power was turned off for about a week. In the first couple days of the outage, Haley had lots of fun running in the house with glow sticks and “torches” from our 72-hour emergency kit. We picked up ice daily from the gas station nearby and had plenty of dried foods that we cooked on our gas oven. We felt very grateful for our church that has always encouraged us to be prepared for these types of events. After a couple days, we were evacuated to a family’s home for a night, after which we left town altogether and spent a week at a condo in Cooloongatta (a famous surfing spot, south of the Gold Coast). It was just too hot to be sleeping 3 to a bed in a hot room. Besides, that family lost power too eventually. The beach trip was a wonderful and unexpected break from our normal routine.

Later in January, I attended an academic conference in Washington DC, so Miguel and Haley had a couple weeks on their own. During that time, we were approved for a visa that required the whole family to leave and reenter the country. Since I was already away, Miguel and Haley took a trip to Christchurch New Zealand for a long weekend. They were very fortunate to be able to visit that beautiful town before it was devastated by an earthquake a week later. It seems that the world is falling to pieces all around us, but we are thriving. It has been a surreal experience, and we feel grateful for our fortunate circumstances. We pray that you are also well.

In the past few months, Haley’s language skills have increased dramatically. I still remember the day that she finished a drink bottle, then handed it to me and said, “I want some more please” with her quasi-Australian accent. It was the first full sentence that came across so clearly that I couldn’t second-guess it. I’m sure that she had spoken in full sentences before that, but they weren’t always with such a meaningful context. Since then, she hasn’t stopped talking.

She likes to tell stories about any little bumps or scratches she has (or invents) on her body. For example, one of her favorite stories is about the time a few months back when a friend’s puppy, named Harry, stayed with us for a weekend and took a nip at her toes when she put her foot in his food dish. She also likes to talk about a hurt finger that needs a band aid, and I know for certain that she invents the injury because she likes stickers. Her stories are very convincing because she has such serious facial expressions. Her fascination with bumps and scratches (on her own or other people’s bodies) makes me wonder if she’ll take up a medical profession someday. She shows real concern if she thinks that someone has been hurt, and has a supportive bedside manner.

It isn’t surprising that Haley enjoys telling stories. As part of her bedtime routine, we read books every night, and Haley has learned some of them well enough that she can almost tell them to us. Although she loves books, she is also quite adept at using electronics and seems to take after Miguel in that way. She is able to intuitively navigate his iPad 2, finding, opening and playing games and books especially for toddlers. She can also find dvds that she likes to watch (Shrek, Tangled, and Finding Nemo) and load them in the player. I’m not sure if she’s figured out the remote controls… she must get that from me.

Haley is also quite athletic, although she may be too much of a girly girl to pursue athletics at a collegiate or professional level. She is amazingly coordinated and loves to bounce on a balance beam (or the sofa) and to dance. She’s getting too big to throw up in the air the way we used to, but she enjoys playing see-saw-up-down while clinging to one of our legs. That’s good exercise for the see saw too!

It may be her outgoing, talkative, athletic qualities that make her quite popular with the other children at kindy. Her best friend is Sienna Edwards, a sweet little blonde girl who is much quieter than Haley. Because they are such good friends, they are able to learn things much faster and more easily together than by themselves. For example, Haley saw that Sienna was sitting on the toilet, so she wanted to try it as well. We haven’t officially started potty training (in part because her bum is too small even for the baby potty seat) but she has shown an interest and I’m sure she’ll have no problem. She also gets on well with the little boys. Parents regularly tell me that their little boys fancy her. She really is quite charming and beautiful so I’m not surprised. Miguel will have quite a job on his hands when Haley reaches dating age (at least 16) and he has to screen her suitors.

Although Haley has a nice group of friends, her favorite companion is a turquoise stuffed bunny she calls “Bubby”. Haley has a creative imagination and is able to have full conversations with Bubby and to take care of his physical and emotional needs. For example, she calms him when he gets fussy by patting his back and putting his head on her shoulder. She sets a place for him at meal times, ties a bib on his neck, changes his diaper, and walks him around the room in a tiny pram. Basically, she does all the things that we do with her. I consider her mimicry flattering.

The terrible 2s aren’t nearly as terrible as I expected. I’ll admit that I sometimes wish Haley hadn’t learned how to say “I want” and we hear our fair share of temper tantrums. Haley is a strong willed girl and she has a powerful set of lungs when she wants to get our attention. However, more often than not, Miguel and I note how she keeps getting more fun to be around and how much we like her (in addition to loving her). We look forward to seeing her grow up, but we’re happy for her to do that at her own pace and will celebrate every milestone.

Since Haley isn’t quite ready to write to you herself, I’m happy to send her love and affection on her behalf. In due time, you’ll hear those sentiments directly.

Kind regards,

Kelly, Miguel and Haley

Jun 24, 2010

Dear Jack,

There is nothing quite as desirable as a hand-written note, at least from the receiver’s point of view. However, at times when that option is unavailable a typewritten note must suffice. I’ve wanted to write to you for some time, but have hesitated to put pen to paper because time is so very precious at present. I plan to take advantage of the typewritten format to record my letter as a blog journal entry.

I have been in Australia with my little family for just over a month and have been working at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) the whole time. We have moved residence three times since we arrived, but are finally situated in a townhouse where we will live for the next year at least. The townhouse is located in the neighbourhood of Yeronga, about five kilometres south of the city centre where I work. I can either ride the train into the city or walk for an hour each direction, which is quite pleasant in cool weather. When my bicycle arrives from the states I’ll give cycling a try, although traffic moves on the wrong side of the street here in British fashion and it will take some getting used to so that I don’t cause an accident.

We spend a lot of time walking together as a family lately, which takes the place of less interesting indoor activities like watching television shows and movies or playing video games. Those were never my favourite, so this lifestyle change is a blessing in my opinion. We live close to the Brisbane River and near several parks and a library, so we have several destinations for our walks. I always used to enjoy the walking and biking paths in Colorado and the mountain scenery. Brisbane lacks mountains and wide paths, but makes up for it with abundant species of colourful birds. We frequently see flocks of Lorikeets, for example, which fly quite fast so that they are only visible as bright red and green blurs in the sky. We also see and hear Kookaburras with their long beaks and squatty frames, sitting in trees and seemingly laughing aloud.
Miguel caught a photo of a bottle-brush tailed possum the other day, which are the local equivalent of Colorado’s squirrels but larger and more brazen in their scavenging behaviour. A colleague told me a story about a formal doctoral examination he attended in which possums snuck in through the ceiling and made off with all of the refreshments before the examiners arrived.

Before we arrived in Australia, Miguel thoroughly researched the many poisonous and otherwise dangerous animal species that we might encounter during our stay. So far, we haven’t seen any that were on that list. We also haven’t seen any kangaroos, wallabies, koalas or crocodiles, since they are not normally found in the city. Once we have settled ourselves in, we’ll take a weekend trip to the rainforest or a day trip to the zoo to find the more iconic forms of Australian wildlife. At present, the ordinary tasks of life such as buying groceries and preparing meals are all-consuming and we are both exhausted by the end of each day.

Just three days ago, on 21st June, Australia experienced its winter solstice and shortest day of the year. Although the days are relatively short, with sunlight from about 5:30 am to 5:30 pm, the temperatures are warm enough that Miguel and I have been comfortable wearing short pants and sleeves, and sandals. In contrast, my colleagues at QUT come to work dressed in layers with coats, scarves and hats. Just today, one of the administrative staff was shocked to hear that I wasn’t freezing to death. I can finally understand why you sought wool socks to wear in Los Angeles. At some point, I may acclimatize to Brisbane’s weather. I hope I do or else I won’t survive the heat and humidity of summer.

We enjoyed visiting with you in the airport last month, and appreciate you taking the trouble to join us. We were especially happy for Haley to have met you and you her. I hope you enjoyed meeting this little girl that you helped bring into our lives, and who brings us so much joy. She grows and learns so quickly these days, but you will surely still recognize her when we pass through next. Her bright eyes and smile are unmistakable.

I plan to write more often than I have, in part so that I can record the details of this adventure. Please don’t feel pressured to respond each time, but send a note when time and circumstances allow. I will also expect to hear news of you through Marsha (aka mom).

Sending my love,

Dec 15, 2009

Going on haiatus

As you can tell we've not updated this blog in months. There will be no further updates to this page for the foreseeable future.

Feb 27, 2009

Geek Post #4

The first time I though whooo, dude, that's cool.  Because really how often do you see really cool chemical reactions of every day food.  I know you are all saying but the Mentos and Diet Coke tricket is really cool.  And I have to agree with you on that but this is even cooler.  

You take a bit of Mountain Dew add a bit of this and a bit of that and your drink begins to glow.  Kinda freaky when you think about it.  But just watch.

For those of you reading this on Facebook click through to the blog to see the video.

Now the disclaimer for all of those that are sticklers for reality:  This is a hoax and does not work.  So don't take things from you Mom's kitchen to give this a try.  It may not be real but it's still a great video.

Feb 26, 2009

Look around you.

I have to say that I love Colorado.  It's February with new snow in the mountains and 70 down here where I live.  You really can't get much better than that.  Kelly and I really haven't posted much recently and well we feel that we are letting down our adoring public all two of you...hehe

I honestly can't recall if I've mentioned this before, and I'm too lazy to search, but we live near a bald eagle preserve.  They usually stay put in their small portion on the world ignoring the rest of us mortals.  So we live, work and go to school. In fact this is my drive to work:

Not much of a drive I know. Looking at the image you believe that I live in the middle of know where far from the thralls of civilization. Don't be fooled.  Just over that ridge and a mere four miles from my house is one of the larger malls in Denver Metro area.  If you would turn your head to the right, metaphorically, you would see a golf course.  1 of 3 withing 3 miles of my house.   But i digress. 

On my way to work I saw this:

Fist let me apologize for the quality of the picture.  The lighting was horrible and all I had was a point and shoot.  I've attempted to correct the image without distorting.  This the female of a breeding pair that lives within walking distance of our house.  Even though the bald eagle has been removed from the federal register of endangered species the City of Westminster still maintains the preserve for these eagles.  The eagles built their nest in 1991 and had their first offspring in 1996.  Eagles mate for life and return to their nesting sites.  These particular eagles tend to keep to themselves and very rarely come out of their preserve.  

It was nice to see them out and about.  Remember that road in the first image. This tree is about5 feet off the side of the road.  Cars were hitting their brakes, doing u-turns, and all around behaving unsafely to catch a glimpse or an image on their phone.  I find it reassuring that nature can still inspire in our world of technology.  So for everyone that is rushing to and from work going about your daily business don't forget to look around. You may just see something very cool....