About Me

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We are Familia FIG. We are a bi- lingual, blended family. Belalu was diagnosed at 9 months with hypochondroplasia.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Man with a Pan

For Christmas, Meridith and I got our parents cooking lessons for the whole family with a personal chef. Jonathan Carr, The man with a pan, came to our house the day after Christmas to teach us how to make all kinds of delicious vitals. Specifically, we made guacamole and salsa; steamed mussels in a garlic butter sauce; sesame rice pilaf; asparagus in a lemon butter sauce; flounder with a cajun crab stuffing; and for dessert: tiramisu!!! While we were preparing the food, Jonathan talked to us about prep techniques and hints. He was so nice and answered all our infinite questions- I'd love to do it again with other dishes. It was a lot of fun and had a delicious end :) Here are some photos of the evening.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas!!!

I hope everyone is having a great day. Now that I am FINALLY on vacation, I will be posting more regularly. Those exams had me busy for the past couple of weeks, but they're done now. I won't know how I did until this spring, when I finish my last one, so I have to just assume I did ok and not think about them anymore. I will be in touch with all of you who have been trying to contact with me within these next few days, I promise! Have a great day!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


So, this is the month of tests. I just finished grading my students' final exams. Tomorrow I will submit the grades and be allegedly on vacation. However, I will be taking two of my four written qualifying exams next week, and will therefore be hopefully two steps closer to getting my Ph.D. I've mostly enjoyed studying for these exams, actually. It's like an independent study, but I don't have to write a paper at the end (just take a 5-hour test ;)

My first exam is on Colonial autobiographical historiography. Which includes the conquisatdors' journals and letters back to Spain as well as books and chronicles written by colonial subjects. For example, I've read Hernan Cortes's letters to the King of Spain, justifying why he basically committed treason by conquering Mexico against his superior's orders. I've also read a conquistador's chronicles of how he survived a shipwreck off the coast of Florida and spent the subsequent 9 years traveling by foot across the continent to get back to the Spaniards in Mexico. Another guy's boat was kidnapped by pirates and he managed to be released to freedom after months of torture and abuse. And yet another book is basically a 17th century gossip rag about all the unfaithful husbands and wives, murder and intrigue that took place in a new city in Colombia.

My other exam is on a group of Spanish poets called the Generation of 27. Since it's some of my favorite poetry, it's been quiet interesting to learn more about them and read their works more in depth.

And yet another exam I already crossed off today was getting my Minnesota Driver's License. I just had to take the written test, but I was still a little nervous due to previous DMV traumas. But I got it!!! Well, they tell me I did- I won't have the actual card for another month. I feel it's a good start to my test marathon.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Monday, Monday

It's been a whirlwind week- starting with a long weekend Thursday. In addition to Dec. 8th being my mother and Mobi's birthdays, it also marked the end of classes for this semester. Juan and I celebrated after my class that afternoon at the Green Mill-I tried a "purple rain" Long Island Iced Tea (Happy Hour Special), which involves the usual suspects plus Midori. Juan had himself a tall Sam Adams. Then it was off to "Tequila Girls" night- a group of women ranging from late 20s to 50s and beyond who get together monthly for margaritas and a chat. It was a lot of fun- the mayor's wife as there and another woman who's lived in Winona for most of her life, so I got some good town lore and gossip, plus delicious margaritas- what more could one ask for on a Thursday night?

It was another snowy Saturday, which I spent studying for my upcoming exams (yikes!) That night we ordered Chinese and watched "King for a Day" on AMC- specifically the last part of Girls, Girls, Girls and Blue Hawaii. I love watching the Elvis movies for the blatant sexism they portray (life was so much simpler when girls knew their place, wasn't it? ;) and the fabulous late-fifties/early sixties sets. Then we topped the night off with some bowling at Winona Bowl. We hadn't gone since June, so suffice to say our scores were not worthy of being published at this time.

Yesterday was gorgeous winter weather, so we took a road trip to LaCrosse, WI, a town we often visit. After discovering a wonderful grocery store we will be making our regular place to shop, we heading downtown to Jules Coffee House, where I did some more studying and Juan read his new book, The tipping point. After two hours at the Y for yoga and hot tub/steam room, we went down to the Winona depot to welcome in the Holiday Train. It's a yearly tradition here- they have singers, Santa, train rides, cookies and hot beverages. People bring money or food to donate for local food pantries.
So, now Juan and I have been singing "People of the world, get on the love train" or "Can't Help Falling in Love with You" all weekend!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Mobi's famous!!!

I was cruising through the web page of our newest pet store in Winona: The Urbane Animal. They sell high-quality pet products and Mobi and I went to check it out the week before Thanksgiving to see what sort of goodies they had for her. And Miss M. got her picture taken to put up on the pet wall. But she's also on the web! Check her out in a rare semi-calm state. To see her on the page, go to "Products" and hit the refresh button until she appears- the photos are rotating in random order, but are all cute.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

On the Road...Red Wing, MN

Despite forecasts of cloudy skies, today was a brilliant blue with a bright sun that reflected off the snow from yesterday. It's that fluffy snow that sparkles in the sun- gorgeous! So, we hopped in the car and took a little road trip an hour's drive north of Winona along the river, to Red Wing, home of Red Wing shoes.
We also discovered lovely Lily's Coffee House. The coffee and ambiance were perfect. They were decked out for the holidays, as you can see. (There really were people there, I swear!)

There was also an art fair going on near the river (inside, of course!).
We wanted to do some more exploring, but the 18 degree temps changed our minds and we vowed to do so, oh, around April. On the way home, we stopped at Lark Toys in Kellogg.
It's a very fun toy store, candy store, and lunch spot with a beautiful carousel. The name stands for Lost Arts Revival and carries on the family business of handcrafted wooden toys, although they also sell more commercial toys and books, too. Throughout the whole complex are glass cases filled with vintage toys and games. It was a great little trip with lots of new discoveries and magnificent scenery. As we were driving along the Mississippi we could see flying next to us bald eagles and other birds of prey. I was amazed how the usually vivid colors of green and blue of the river, bluffs, and sky had muted to white, brown, and pastels of pink and light blue. I wish I could have taken a picture, but it just didn't work from the car.
tomorrow's the start of another week- I hope it's a great one for you!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Snowy Saturday

This week just flew by- and now the weekend's almost over, too! I did quite a bit of knitting in the car on the way to my aunt and uncle's house in New York last weekend. So much so, that I haven't done it again all week! This is what four days in the car produced:

Now that I think about it, I did get a little done on Tuesday night, too, but about an hour less than I could have, if I didn't get completely lost going to the knitting group that night. They were meeting in a house that mapquest told me was 5 minutes from mine. Thing is, I printed off the directions, but not the map. And while I looked at the map, I didn't do so very closely because I noticed her street was off 9th and I live on 5th. So, how hard could it be?...... Well, one hour later and one trip home to look it up on mapquest AGAIN, I realized that Winona is actually divided in two by Route 61, which I already knew. What I didn't know was that the streets on both sides of 61 have the same names with no designation whatsoever to tell you which side of the highway you want to be on. So, that's how I could follow the directions without ever actually finding the street. Moral of the story: CHECK THE MAP

Last night we saw Agatha Christie's play "The Mousetrap" at WSU. It was really good- the students were great actors, especially Juan's student who played Chrisopher Wren, the odd, uncombed young man who aroused many suspicions of various sorts. Theater is huge around here, so there are lots of opportunities for going to a play- more than we've taken advantage of so far.

Today it's been snowing all day- it's been the perfect Saturday. I got up early and read for a few hours for my exams, then did yoga at home with this book:
When I lived in Boston I would go to the Baptiste studios in Cambridge and Boston- now I go to the local YMCA, which has some great classes. However, they don't offer any yoga classes on Mondays, Fridays or Saturdays, so I have to do it at home. Thing is, I am not so disciplined at home and it's hard to motivate myself to do it there. I'd like to get some Baron DVDs- they'd help. (Christmas present??) But anyway, I did do it for 45 minutes yesterday. (yeah me!)

In the afternoon, Juan and I watched Noi Albinoi- a movie from Iceland about a brillant guy who's stuck in a small town in the middle of nowhere. Typical of Northern European movies, it didn't have the happiest ending, but it wasn't entirely bleak either. The setting was gorgeous and fit right in with the fluffy whiteness falling outside our windows.

Today was the perfect combination of productivity and relaxation.