Friday, August 19, 2011

Nathan's Big Boy Bed!

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming of our Adventure in Ecuador series to bring you an exciting addition to the Sarmiento home....

NATHAN'S NEW BIG BOY BED!!!! :) Before he had a crib, but had never slept it in the whole night-- he's pretty much been with us in our bed since birth. Which has been fine, but we were ready for a change. :)
We'd been wanting to get him his own bed for a long time now, and we happened to come across an amazing deal from Groupon that made it all worth it. We paid $50 to get $200 worth at the Mattress Firm, and then we found this twin mattress and box spring which ended up being perfect for us. We walked out of there paying $20! So that's a mattress and box spring, with taxes and all for just under $70-- we're so pleased! (Considering originally we were looking at just getting a basic twin mattress-- no box spring-- from Walmart for $100-- which probably wouldn't have been anywhere near as nice as this one!) Nathan loves his bed! The first night he slept until 6:10 am all by himself! Then the next night was a little harder-- he woke up a couple times and was pretty sad to find himself all alone-- so I went in there... and yeah, accidentally fell asleep in his room. And then last night, he woke up a couple times-- the first time he was screaming but then the second time he just got up and headed toward our bedroom, without any drama.. SO! Overall, I think we're making good progress!
Also, we like that his bed makes the room look at lot less crowded than the useless crib did. So that's good--And he chose his sheets-- although it was a toss up-- he was very indecisive as he went from sports, to Toy Story, to Spiderman--- all favorites of his. Finally the sports theme won, because of ALLLL the balls on it. He runs from one side of the bed to the other, pointing at each ball. It goes like this:
"Basketball???!! (Dunks the ball) SLAM DUNK!!! Soccer ball??!! (Kicks) GOAAALLLL!! Baseball?!!? (Swings bat) HOME RUN!! Football!?!!? (Throws the ball down) TOUCHDOWN!!!!
(Now, obviously he can't say them as clearly as that.. but that is what he does, I promise!)
We're glad to have our own room again and that Nathan likes his room so much!
{And we'll get back to our Ecuador posts just as soon as I get our picture CD from my mother in law-- because we just have the actual pictures that we took on her camera and I am not scanning them all in. Until then, enjoy the more up to date posts!}

{Ignore the fact that Nathan is holding my chapstick in every. single. picture. He's a little obsessed with it. He loves that silly lid. That, and anything that resembles a lid like that, i.e. the little plastic white thing that covers the end of those springy door stoppers. Rolls eyes.}

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ecuador: Trip to Esmeraldas

First, let's finish up our trip to Baños-- on the way back we stopped in Ambato at a mercado, or market place. We ate a typical Ecuadorian dish there, called llapingachos. It was SO good (I even ordered a second plate to share-- wait, did I share it? Maybe not, because it was delicious!) And I also loved the fresh juices that they offered at a nearby stand, too.
The cooks at work...Nadia (F's aunt--Marco's wife), Zoila (F's grandma), Marco (F's uncle), and Elvie (F's aunt).
One of my favorite things in all of Ecuador was all the fruits and vegetables they had. Here's a view at just a small part of their fresh fruits at the mercado. So much color! :)

Then, after Ambato, we stopped in Quisapincha, which is a little town near Ambato, famous for their leather goods. It was incredible what we were able to find there, and at unbeatable prices! We ended up getting leather jackets for each of us, and I got a couple pairs of cute boots, too! Loved it!
We got back to Quito late that night (Wednesday the 18th), and then left for Esmeraldas on Friday the 20th. Esmeraldas is a coastal city, famous for their beautiful beaches. (And they are beautiful.) It was about a four hour? drive there, but with several winding roads...
We stopped along the way to grab a bite to eat, and Diana (F's cousin) discovered a great way for keeping track of little Nathan! (That's her headband wrap thing..) :)
Nathan, just hanging out.. :)
Fermine, Diana's dog got to come to the beach with us-- which was great for keeping Nathan entertained during the drive. While we ate, he got to take Fermine for walk!
On the road again... (And that sign, about the curves coming up... yeah, no kidding. Although, to be fair, they have been doing a lot of renovation on their highways, and I was impressed with them, overall.)
This was the beach house that we stayed at-- it was Marcelo's (Diana's husband) parents' beach house. It was in a small gated community that was right up along the coast. Perfect, because since we were there during the off season, we had the whole beach to ourselves!
Now, I know beach pictures aren't the most flattering, but I'll make the sacrifice so that all can enjoy the pictures. ;-)
Nathan really enjoyed playing in the sand and the small waves-- and hey, there are shells and rocks to find!
The Ecuadorian beaches are suuuuuper pretty.. but beyond that, the water is warmer than you'd ever expect! And because they don't really have seasons, it stays that way all year long. You could go in the water at 4 am or 4 pm and it would still be warm enough to swim and enjoy the water.
Nathan with Grandma-- :)
These were the stairs down to the water, and the rocks that separated the higher ground with houses from the ocean-- during high tide, most of the stairs were covered!
Freddy climbing on the rocks. :)

The boys showering off after swimming..
The sun down there is suuuuper strong. I forgot to wear sunscreen for like ten minutes and I was already like a lobster..
Andddd... this is in town, when our camera broke.. It would turn on for like 0.2 seconds and then die. So... that's the last picture that we got on our camera. Luckily, Monica (my mother in law) was there with us and we got to use her camera for the rest of the trip (which was totally fine because her camera is way better than ours anyway.. Ha..).
And more to come, because after that we went on a week long road trip all along the coast and throughout Ecuador!! :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Ecuador: Trip to Baños and Tungurahua

Our flight left at like, 1:30 am on May 14th, and we arrived in Ecuador around 2 in the afternoon (which is two hours later than CA time). We flew from LAX to San Salvador, El Salvador (about a six hour flight or so)-- and just had a transfer there, and then from El Salvador to San José, Costa Rica (a two hour flight), where we were supposed to have a one hour layover, but ended up boarding just as they were about to leave! From there we went to Quito, Ecuador (which was a three hour flight). Yay! We made it to Ecuador! And {surprisingly} Nathan was excellent during the flight-- all the way until the last half hour or so. But really, for the most part he was great! :) (Thank you dollar store toys.)

Quick funny story. I knew that I'd be meeting a lot of people there, but I really didn't know who to expect. And after you arrive and get your luggage, there's like a small crowd of extended family waiting to greet you. So, naturally, I started hugging and kissing everyone on the cheeks, like everyone does down there. Well, there was this one kid that I totally hugged and everything.. "¡Hola, mijo! ¿Cómo estás?"-- kind of like, Hi, sweetie, how are you? Well, I thought he was part of the family waiting for us, and after a little while of him following me around, I realized was actually just one of the kids begging for money from tourists that were getting off the plane. {With a suuuper sad face...} "Señoritaaaa... por favorrr..." {Whoops! My bad.}

Any way! We went to lunch and got settled in at Freddy's aunt and uncle's house-- Oswaldo and Betty-- and everyone came over to see us. Nathan got to meet and play with his cousins, Camila and Valentina. He really liked them.
Especially Vale-- because she's a little older than him, so she's more fun to play with. :) Then this was while we were visiting Freddy's grandma on his dad's side-- where Nathan realized how much he likes {or loves} child-size plastic chairs.So, we arrived to Ecuador on Saturday, and the following Tuesday we left for a sweet road trip to Baños, which is the city at the base of the volcano, Tungurahua. We wanted to go to Baños because Freddy's grandma really wanted to go visit her Virgin Mary. {The way I understand it, it's like having a favorite temple to go to or something... so when you're in that part of the world, you stop by to see it.} And, more than that, it's a way touristy place to go, so we went! It's about a three hour drive to get there-- not too bad. And on the way we stopped and took pictures with the Cotopaxi-- it's a "nevado" which, I don't think there's a word for in English. It means, a volcano that's covered in snow. And I guess it was the clearest day any of the family had ever seen. So we took pictures.

Here we have F's aunts-- Elvie, Naida, Yvonne, then his mom, Monica, Nathan, Freddy, and then his uncle, Marco {I was taking the picture..}.
And a better view-- actually taken while we were stopped getting gas (which, by the way, is $1.48 a gallon. I thought it was per liter, but no-- seriously, it's a gallon. Whaaaat?)
After breakfast {or more like brunch..} Monica and her mom were surprised when Freddy wanted to take a picture of them exiting the bathroom-- until he pointed out that they had used the men's bathroom. Oops!
Every city along the way has something they're famous for. We got some of the famous Salcedo ice cream as we passed through Salcedo, Ecuador. They have four layers of various exotic fruits (and they're surprisingly healthy). My mouth is watering just thinking about them! They were suuuper good! Poor Nathan missed out on them (that time)-- he was asleep and woke up just as we finished them. :(
When we got to Baños, we stayed at the Hotel Acapulco, just across the-- what is that-- like park square-- from the Catholic church that we were there to see. Freddy's up on the balcony just outside our room-- Nathan and I are there on the sidewalk.
And here we are in the park square thing-- with the church behind us to the left. :)
One fun fact-- on that trip, Nathan learned how to cross his fingers and would often entertain himself just crossing and uncrossing his fingers. Too cute.
We had gone with Zoila, Freddy's grandma, to the Catholic mass the night before, so the next day we spent doing more touristy things. We drove up the volcano-- and took some pretty pictures... Uhh-- I think this might be me with the "cascada" or waterfall called Pailon del Diablo-- the Devil's Cauldron.. but I'll be honest.. I'm not positive which one it is-- there are so many..
THEN! We had a great idea to go on a "tarabita" or-- uhh-- like a cable car type thing. Except with wayyy less safety precautions than they would ever have here in the States. {Pretty sure it was a cable that went from one side to the other using like, an old lawn mower motor or something. Or it seemed like it anyway.. And seat belts? Ha. Or even seats? Double ha. Or anything to hang on to?!? Uhh-- try, the edge of the cable car.}
So here we are, mid-ride, and Nathan wasn't loving it. Look verrrry closely, and you can see the cable that we went across on-- it starts on the left side, about the middle of the picture. But you can't really see it more than like, half way across the picture, but the cable goes allll the way across the canyon, over the waterfalls, and back again. And that's a bridge down there-- to walk across, if you don't have the guts to cross on the tarabita. :PAnd there we are, as we're about to cross the waterfall, called the Manto de la Novia-- or the Veil of the Bride. We're in that tiny, red cable car, which when we got that far across, it didn't seem like such a great idea.
And after the ride, when we were glad to have survived.
After that, we stopped to try fresh sugar cane. That was pretty good-- I thought it would be ridiculously sugary-sweet, but no, it was just like good-amount-sweet.
We had great plans to do other fun things, but then they noticed that the volcano started erupting a lot more than it usually does*, and Freddy's grandma got pretty scared, so we headed down the mountain and out of Baños. It sure was a fun trip! And we got to see a lot of neat things! :)
*Tungurahua is an active volcano, and always has some ash coming from it. But supposedly it has a huge eruption every thousand years or something, and it's due for another big one. Or more like over due. It's like California waiting for THE BIG ONE-- the earthquake. But I guess the last time everyone was told to evacuate because they thought it was erupting, a whole bunch of thieves came in and robbed everyone. So now when they tell people to evacuate, they're like, Suuuure we will... (Roll eyes).

(Wow. I don't think it's ever taken me this long to blog before.. But I kind of want to add as much detail as possible.. For you to read, and for me to remember..)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Four Months in Four Minutes

Let's not even get started on my past four months of {not} blogging. Instead, let's just jump right in and get a quick overview of what we've been up to.

1. We went to a Ward Family Picnic at the Mesa Temple.
It was pretty cute when Nathan saw the Christus statue this time-- he kept acting like he was so amazed. "Gasp! (And point)...Gasp! (And point)...Gasp!" You get the idea. It was pretty cute.
2. We've been {Nathan's been} playing hide and go seek.
3. Darren and Isis came to visit and we had a blast!
3a. We went to the Maricopa County Fair together---

{And these are the only pictures we have with D and I in them-- so, yeah, just trust me-- that's the back of Isis's head.}
3b. We stopped and took pictures by the river next to ASU {it's probably about time I learn what that darn river is actually named} and we almost went paddle boating, but Nathan was too little to go on the boat {and it was too hot to be out on the water having to paddle}. So we took nice pictures instead!
3c. And we went to the Mesa Temple together-- we wanted to see the Easter Pageant, but it turned out to be in Spanish that day.
4. We went to the Easter Pageant for real {and when it was in English}. THAT was cool. We left making a mental list of all the people we want to invite to it next year. {If you're reading this-- you're probably already on the list.}
5. We celebrated EASTER!!! Nathan had an Easter egg hunt out on our grass {Sure wish it still looked like that. We'll get to that soon enough.}. He needed a little help.
And he collected all of his eggs in his toy boat. :) {Brilliant.}
And Freddy accidentally fell asleep while Nathan and I played with sidewalk chalk. {When he saw this picture he was like, "Did I actually fall asleep??!" Uhh-- totally.
6. We've been weddinging. This particular one was Nick and Gloria's-- Freddy's cousins. They had Aztec dancers to a pretty sweet performance during their reception. Nathan reallly wanted to get his hands on some of those feathers.
7. Freddy surprised me for Mothers Day and made me dinner! WOW! He {and Nathan} made me a homemade chicken pot pie-- my choice-- and it was DE-LIC-IOUS!
And they played around a bit... like always...
I loved dinner! And I was SO proud of my husband!! :)
7. And then, of course, we went to ECUADOR!!! :D
So here we are in the airport at oh, 1:30 in the morning or so-- ready for the 10 hour? flight ahead of us! {Yeah right.}
And we'll stop there for now. :) So I guess that was more like, a month and a half in ten minutes, rather than 4 months in 4. BUT! Stay tuned! Because our whole SIX weeks in Ecuador is coming up next! Ecuador, Day 1... {Just kidding..} I think we'll just focus on the highlights, or else we'll be doing these posts until after Halloween or so. {2012, that is.} ;-)