Ogles & Observations is moving!

25 Jun

Thanks for all our faithful readers to Ogles & Observations. We are currently in the process of moving to China…..and thought it appropriate to move our blog, too.

 

Please find us at http://oglesandobservations.com and remember to hit the subscribe button so you don’t miss anything!

 

Thank you for reading and following!

A trip to New York City

16 Nov A pretty spoon with a pretty image of a pretty spot in Manhattan (and a pretty good looking guy in the knife).

We had a wonderful time on our recent trip to NYC. A break from Chinese lessons is what we expected….but we our training was only reinforced by the many many people we heard speaking Chinese and also that we interacted with. Yep, our Chinese works (what little we have!). We loved being in the city, going to Broadway, eating like we had never eaten before, and spending some time sans children!

Really cool lounge at the Gramercy.

Really cool lounge at the Gramercy.

We ate breakfast on the terrace at Gramercy Park Hotel.  Yummo!

Also at the Gramercy....a butterfly mosaic.  Beautiful and intriguing!

Also at the Gramercy….a butterfly mosaic. Beautiful and intriguing!

A pretty spoon with a pretty image of a pretty spot in Manhattan (and a pretty good looking guy in the knife).

A pretty spoon with a pretty image of a pretty spot in Manhattan (and a pretty good looking guy in the knife) at the Gramercy Terrace.pi

 

We walked from Gramercy Park to MOMA on Veterans' Day and observed many groups preparing for the parade.

We walked from Gramercy Park to MOMA on Veterans’ Day and observed many groups preparing for the parade.

We walked by the famous NY Public Library.

We walked by the famous NY Public Library.

Rockefeller Center.

Rockefeller Building.

Because it was Veterans' Day, all the flags surrounding at Rockefeller Center were the US flag...usually it is a flag from each US state.

Because it was Veterans’ Day, all the flags surrounding Rockefeller Plaza were the US flag…usually it is a flag from each US state.

Finally I was able to see Van Gogh's Starry Night in person!  I had missed it when it was on view at The High Museum (Atlanta) years ago.  Incredible in person!

Finally I was able to see Van Gogh’s Starry Night in person at MOMA! I had missed it when it was on view at The High Museum (Atlanta) years ago. Incredible in person!

My hubby took in The Scream.

My hubby took in The Scream by Edvard Munch.

We loved this (Matisse, I think!). Japanese lady by the stream.

We loved this Woman in Japanese Robe by Water by Matisse.

Is he a part of the art, or is a part of him?  Although pretty straightforward, we talked about this piece of "art" long after he stepped into it.

Is he a part of the art, or is a part of him? Although pretty straightforward, we talked about this piece of “art” long after he stepped into it.

My cousin took this snapshot - we should have had him in there with us!  Near the subway entrance near Chelsea.

My cousin took this snapshot – we should have had him in there with us! Near the subway entrance near Chelsea.

The High Line was a great place for a stroll on a perfect evening!

The High Line was a great place for a stroll on a perfect evening!

A great way to experience the city – The High Line.

Taking a break in Central Park.

Taking a break in Central Park.

L.O.V.E.  We should all do more of this.

L.O.V.E. We should all do more of this. By Robert Indiana on 6th Ave.

Radio City Music Hall at Night.  We got this great picture from the seat of our Pedicab/Rickshaw.

Radio City Music Hall at Night. We got this great picture from the seat of our Pedicab/Rickshaw.

Here I am posing with our Pedicab driver/peddeler.  What a way to travel! I suppose I will have another opportunity to go this way in China!

Here I am posing with our Pedicab driver/peddeler. What a way to travel! I suppose I will have another opportunity to go this way in China!

A Picnic in a Special Park – Iwo Jima Memorial in D.C.

30 Sep The kids got along so nicely today! It was so much fun - promising ice cream to everyone always helps out with behavior. :)

What a beautiful day to be in Washington, D.C.! The weather is amazing, it’s Sunday, and we are putting aside our Chinese studying for a bit. My desire to avoid studying may come from my nightmare last night – I dreamt that while studying Chinese in bed that the bed collapsed and was being sucked into a big, deep hole! AGH!!

Anyways, our friends who we met a couple of years ago in my husband’s A-100 class are back in town learning language and we accepted their invitation for a picnic today at a nearby memorial.  They have a sweet baby now and it’s just so much fun to be around her!

There are many memorials nearby in D.C. (obviously). It does make you think a couple of times about them when trying to explain in an appropriate way, the significance of them to a six year old.  A) How much do we want to talk about war and B) do we have our history correct?  I usually answer A and my hubby answers B.  It’s just safer that way. Ha!

We spread the blankets out, Super Baby napped, and we dove into the hummus, pasta salad and marshmallows for dessert. We were all happy!  Off to see the memorial – officially the Marine Corps War Memorial, but usually referred to as the Iwo Jima Memorial.

It’s also on the same grounds as a bell tower gift from the Netherlands – which rings on the quarter hour.  Those inspiring tones reminded me of my dear friends from Holland that we met and are still in Recife.  :)

My two thoroughly enjoyed themselves at the picnic today!  Super Baby napped peacefully on the blanket and our daughter discovered she likes new picnic foods.  After the meal, we headed down to the memorial.

My two thoroughly enjoyed themselves at the picnic today! Super Baby napped peacefully on the blanket and our daughter discovered she likes new picnic foods. After the meal, we headed down to the memorial.

We had a great time with our friends from my husband's A-100 class - they are back from Zimbabwe with a cutie-pie in the stroller!

We had a great time with our friends from my husband’s A-100 class – they are back from Zimbabwe with a cutie-pie in the stroller!

The Memorial at Iwo Jima - very inspiring!

The Memorial at Iwo Jima – very inspiring!

The kids got along so nicely today! It was so much fun - promising ice cream to everyone always helps out with behavior. :)

The kids got along so nicely today! It was so much fun – promising ice cream to everyone always helps out with behavior.:)

I had to include this one - my six year old insisted on taking a photo of me and my friend - so sweet to include her little fingers.  A budding photog indeed!

I had to include this one – my six year old insisted on taking a photo of me and my friend – so sweet to include her little fingers. A budding photog indeed!

Entering week four of learning to speak Mandarin (Chinese)

23 Sep

Life has changed so much in the few weeks since we have been back in the States. Well, I suppose now it’s actually more like a few months.  My husband and I both are studying Chinese; our daughter has entered American first grade (and loves it!) and Super Baby is at the daycare near the school. We’re all students and we all get the Sunday night blues…..but wow, Friday feels A-M-A-Z-I-N-G when it rolls around.

It is a privilege to be in a part of the world with true changes of season and we are especially fortunate to have a tree out our window with promises of a bright orange hue coming on – oh how we love the fall!

We're all back together and in D.C.! The summer of separation was hard as my husband finished up the post in Recife and we visited friends and family just about everywhere in the U.S.!  We love D.C. and going to museums and the ZOO!

We’re all back together and in D.C.! The summer of separation was hard as my husband finished up the post in Recife and we visited friends and family just about everywhere in the U.S.! We love D.C. and going to museums and the ZOO!

Learning Chinese is interesting and, as expected, quite hard. Our teachers are great – so patient – and my classmates (all three of them!) are interesting. We keep adding layer upon layer to this ancient language and figure out how the heck to memorize thousands of characters just to read the newspaper! To be considered literate, you must be able to read the 3,500 most common characters. (!)

Waiting to catch the shuttle bus to the metro station for a family outing at a favorite sushi spot. These two characters can eat a dozen sashimi each!!

Waiting to catch the shuttle bus to the metro station for a family outing at a favorite sushi spot. These two characters can eat a dozen sashimi each!!

We are in corporate housing south of D.C. in a complex that caters to people like us who come and go often. Our apartment is a far cry from beach-front Brazil, but it is modern and clean, and sometimes it is nice to have a place that isn’t so big that you’re annoyed by how far the walk is from the bedroom to the kitchen when you want a glass of water in the middle of the night.

We have a lovely pool, still open and professionally guarded, that up until a couple of weeks ago, was quite crowded.  I hadn’t taken the children there yet and as summer seemed to be slipping from our hands, on a Friday afternoon, we changed out of school clothes and into bathing suits and headed out.

You do remember that my kids practically lived in the pool or at the beach for two years. I had so many friends in Recife ask me what Super Baby was going to do without access to water year round, my daughter was a little fish, and I had finally figured out the best sunscreen for my too-white self (Blue Lizard, BTW).

We arrive at the relatively crowded pool and take off our cover ups.

I look around.

I am the only one over the age of six in a bikini. Hm. Well,  at least it is an American bikini and not a Brazilian-cut one!

My daughter jumps in while Super Baby and I sit on the stairs.

He freaks out. 

His pants are wet. We are in the swimming pool, after all.

No, he’s really ticked. He’s convinced he needs to take his pants off.

Now.

Right now.

Knowing how reasoning with a (my!) two-year old usually turns out, we get out of the pool. I take his wet swim suit off and wrap him in a towel.

He’s ticked.

Now he’s ready to swim.

Naked!

He wiggles away and begins to head toward the pool.

Naked

I follow behind with the still-damp shorts and shimmy them back onto his little fast and slippery body.

Holding him, I decide we should venture into the water, rather than sitting on the stairs.

He’s screaming.

Did we live in Brazil? Did this child swim 3-5 times per week? Did he have a standing order with the beach-chair lady for agua de cocoa, bubble water and a popsicle (in that order)? 

So, while still holding him, and bobbing up and down in the water, I am finally able to observe our daughter doing a handstand.

She’s finally thrilled!

The observation is cut short as Super Baby is getting madder and madder. 

I turn my back towards my daughter while bouncing up and down with Super Baby.

Naaaaah, no one is looking at us yet….

He is inconsolable and I’m getting over this swim experiment.

Wasn’t I doing this to do something nice for my children?

 

ZWhish!

 

Bikini top???????

 

U-N-T-I-E-D!

 

 

By my daughter???  She never does stuff like this!

Thank goodness I’m holding Super Baby in front of my chest.

I tie the top, turn around, deliver  the look of death, get everyone out of the pool and we all go home.

Did we ever live in the land of sunshine?

 

Summer in the U.S. – Fernandina Beach, FL

21 Aug The Cummer Museum of Arts and Gardens was just our speed and size. Their kids art kits were an awesome prompt to enjoy the incredible gardens and to be inspired!

We spent some time with my husband’s family in Fernandina Beach, Florida. We went to the beach but didn’t take any pictures….I suppose we are the fortunate position to think that going to the beach is “regular”! I wonder if that feeling will wear off.

We had a great time resting and letting the kids be spoiled by their grandparents. Super Baby’s English was starting to mesh….and the word “Uncle” sounds an awful lot like “agua” so all of our uncles are now going by “Agua So and So”. Totally cute!

Feeding turtles in the backyard

Feeding turtles in the backyard

Playing on the swingset

Playing on the swingset

Love the quote in the background from Mary Oliver: "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

Love the quote in the background from Mary Oliver: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” At the Jacksonville Zoo.

Feeding giraffes at the zoo.

Feeding giraffes at the zoo.

Fun on the carousel.  This is my current favorite picture of Super Baby!

Fun on the carousel. This is my current favorite picture of Super Baby!

Off to the Science Museum in downtown Jacksonville - super cool entrance to the body exhibit!

Off to the MOSH (Museum of Science and History) in downtown Jacksonville – super cool entrance to the body exhibit!

The dinosaur exhibit at the science museum had an archeological dig site set up for the kiddos.  Do we have a budding paleontologist?

The dinosaur exhibit at the science museum had an archeological dig site set up for the kiddos. Do we have a budding paleontologist?

The Cummer Museum of Arts and Gardens was just our speed and size. Their kids art kits were an awesome prompt to enjoy the incredible gardens and to be inspired!

The Cummer Museum of Arts and Gardens was just our speed and size. Their kids art kits were an awesome prompt to be inspired in the riverside garden!

Summer in the U.S. – Fourth of July in Tennessee

20 Aug Grundy10

For Fourth of July, we’ve been going to the same spot in south east Tennessee for more than 10 years with our “friends who are family”. This year we spiced things up with a new location and a different parade.

It’s in the same county (Grundy) but just down the road a piece. Our time at “camp” was great, the parade in Tracy City, and a couple of great hikes in the area made for a great welcome home to the U.S.  My husband was here for a few days with us before his return to Brazil for the final weeks of his post there.

Forgive the tiny gallery photos – I was too lazy to import each one individually! If you click on the photo, you’ll see the full size image!

Haircuts, church, and an evening vigil

26 Jul

It didn’t take me long living in a foreign country where I didn’t speak the language to realize that many things that once were important to me to understand or be able to communicate about were going to be quite difficult. 

The first thing I realized was very hard was getting a haircut. While I’m not that girl who is crazy about my hair, I have always liked a nice, up to date cut.  Usually I would tell the stylist a bit about my hair, make some suggestions and then let them go for it (or for my regular stylist in Atlanta, just catch up on the latest news). There, though, sign language was the main form of communication, plus the determination of the stylist to attempt to do something with all that (new, more ecstatic) frizz. 

Tears. 

Lots of tears over very bad haircuts, some cheap, some very expensive, and none just great.  Let’s say video skypeing was not my favorite thing unless I was sporting my running cap.:)

And the other thing that was just so hard there was attending church.  Not only do you have the regular challenges with finding one that may align with your beliefs, has a kids program, is in a relatively convenient location and all the other things, but then you have the fast-speaking clergy. It was so hard for me to pick out what was being said (and then my Portuguese was terrible that I had to ask my husband how you say “Jesus” just so I could try to catch the sound of His name every once in a while. BTW, it’s JAY-zeus. *sigh*

Tears.

Lots of tears. Mostly because of the isolation. The isolation was all to familiar in grocery stores, cocktail parties, the beach, waiting for school to let out all because I couldn’t understand what was being said to me and to the side conversations surrounding me.  Then to face that same isolation in a place that is supposed to be comfortable. Emotional disaster! Don’t get me wrong, we had many friendly, wonderful, warm people invite us and introduce us to churches and truly want us to get connected, but it was just not possible (not even difficult, just not possible for me) with my language barrier. 

So podcasts from two of my favorite Atlanta preachers, Andy Stanley and Sam Candler were added to my regular iPod rotation on Monday and Tuesday morning drives after dropping off at school.  And while I have been through enough trials to firmly believe in God’s faithfulness to me, I did often think of my time in Recife as a spiritual holding pattern. 

Then we returned from Brazil at the end of June to a very busy travel schedule. And, until tonight, we hadn’t been to church.  (if you want to verify the busy-ness of our schedule, click this link to see the map of our 5,000+ travel miles we’ll accomplish in about 8 weeks)

And so it is that tonight my sister and I happen to be in our hometown with our four little ones visiting grandparents, preparing for my 20 year high school reunion (!) and we sadly had to attend the vigil of our friends’ father tonight.

The service was held in the one Catholic church in my hometown – and what a beautiful place it is. The stained glass was bright and beautiful; the sanctuary a place of peace. 

And while I knew deep down that when I was able to return to a holy place, a place to be in communion with God that I would indeed shed more tears….I thought the tears would be a mixed bag of relief, confusion, exhaustion, inspiration, and comfort….and about me.  

But instead tonight it was about my friends’ dad, in celebrating his life, in hearing about his commitment to his family, his behind-the-scenes approach to life, his quirky sense of humor, his vast interest in the world around him, and his loving care of his family.  I sat in the pew and cried for their loss, for those moments of realization that they will have when they truly begin to miss John.  

In some way, that first foray back into church was a comfort that it wasn’t about me and what I have felt I missed. And I was pleased to be part of this community of the friends and family of John that could support his wife, daughter, son, brothers and sisters.  It was one of the first times in a long time that I could understand, experience and participate that community support of a family in need, surrounded by thoughtful and caring people.

Tonight I pray for their family, and for John. 

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