Saturday, December 29, 2007

They've Been "Elfed"!

This is just a quick one to provide you with some entertainment!

Click on the link below to see Juancho, Laura and Angie as dancing elves! Our friend Steve with Orphan's Hope put this together for us...and the kids loved watching it so much that we made some 'elves' of our own!

More later...but click below for some fun!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Catching Up - Through Stories and Photos!

We've found that Angie has a very good 'angry face' fact SO good, it even scares her! I captured the shot above one evening as Laura was helping me cook. Angie wanted to sit on the counter and help too - but she wanted to sit very close to the burning stove...and Mami didn't feel so comfortable with that. This is the reaction I got when I sat her further away than she wanted. I captured the shot on camera, and when I showed it to her she cried and recoiled in fear...we tried to explain to her that it was Angie in the photo...but she was sure it was some sort of monster! Well, sometimes she is a little monster...but mostly she's a real the rest of the photos will certainly attest!

This was the night of the famed 'Angie Angry Face'. Laura helped me cook Macaroni and Cheese. The first time we served Mac & Cheese to the kiddos, they thought it was very weird food and balked at it...but eventually ate it. We served it again and they decided it would taste the best with ketchup on top (they pretty much put ketchup on every food)...and they've eaten it that way ever since...and they ask us why Minnesota food is so weird... :)

More cooking Angie & Laura help Holly's mom (Abuela Meadows) make white chocolate covered pretzels for Christmas. The girls' job was to do the green and red sprinkles. You can see in the photo that Angie was a bit over-zealous with the red sprinkles! :) We spent nearly a week with Holly's family in Iowa - it was a lot of fun and the kids REALLY loved playing with their cousins - Heather (age 12), Joel (age 12), Sarah (age 11), Max (age 9) and going sledding! We had planned to return to MN on Sunday, Dec. 23rd...but then a blizzard-like snowstorm that hit Iowa on Saturday (the day we celebrated Christmas with the family) made the entire Meadows clan snow-bound in Holly's parents house...we were quite impressed that they had enough blankets, pillows and floor space to provide for 19 people to sleep! It was a fun slumber party!

Speaking of the cousins, this is the oldest cousin on the Meadows side - Heather Stanfield. She is quite sophisticated in this photo - modeling her brand new blue pashmina all the way from Italy (brought home by Uncle Jon's girlfriend Rachel - thanks Rachel!). Heather was quite excited to meet her new cousins and she was such a great cousin! She had practiced the Spanish she had been learning in school and did very well communicating with the new cousins! She also made them each some really special gifts based on their specific interests. She has a great new blog too that she started after becoming a regular reader of the DresselFamilia blog!

One of the gifts that Angie received from her Grandparents (Abuelos) was a trunk with a number of fairy costumes. For the following days that we spent in Iowa, Angie was nearly always wearing a fairy costume...and how could she resist when she had to know she was this darn cute?! We called her our 'Pink Princessa'. :)

Oh...and in case you were wondering...fairies go potty too! :) (yeah, we know this is one of those type of photos she'll yell at us for taking when she is about 14 years old...but every child needs a few of those type of photos, right?)

We've learned that all of our three ninos are very interested in crafts and putting things together. We have had a number of projects we worked on together as a familia...including painting/coloring wooden ornaments...Angie was quite excited to show off her ornament and find the perfect spot on the tree to put it. (you may also notice from her mouth that she had enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate just before this pose!)

Juancho has a few sets that involve building or constructing something...and he got a couple more for Christmas. He loves putting things together...and as long as the instructions have pictures, it doesn't matter what language they're written in...he'll figure it out!

The first couple weeks we were home, the kids would ask each day when snow would fall again. Since MN had been pummeled by storms just before we got home from Colombia, we hoped that we'd see snow fall again soon...but it wasn't until a couple days before Christmas that the snow actually did fall. So as we waited for that day, Laura and Angie and Holly worked on making our OWN snowflakes. As you see here, Angie gives them One Thumb UP!

Juancho got his first Cubs jersey from Tio (Uncle) Jon for Christmas. Holly's father was born and raised in Chicago-land and has always been a die-hard Cubs fan - even during the rougher years for the team. Holly's brother has kept the loyalty, as has the rest of the Meadows family! We'll have to get him out to Wrigley Field sometime next summer!

Juancho and Laura have gotten quite a bit of sled-time in. This picture was taken on Christmas Day when they went sledding with their Minnesota Dressel-side cousins - Abby (age 10), Olivia (age 9), and Isabel (age 6). They've also done a bit of sledding around our house and while in Iowa they did some death-defying sledding with Papi (Mami had to close her eyes!) and we all went sledding one night in the fog at a nearby golf course. Fun Fun!!

What a handsome pooch! PJ handled the children coming home, travels for the holidays and the craziness around the house with grace and ease...we think he is GREAT!

Laura's reaction on Christmas morning when she opened her 'Santa Gift' and saw that Santa had brought just what she asked for...plates, cups and flatware for her little kitchen (thanks friends of the Gordon's!). She's been 'cooking' up a storm ever since!

Angie on Christmas morning showing off one of her FAVORITE items...Chocolate MNM's! She definitely takes after her Papi!

The children on Christmas morning...each opening a gift! The kids had a wonderful Christmas - thanks in part to the many people who donated or gave gifts to our family...what a blessing for them...THANK YOU!!

Laura on Christmas far her favorite gift from Christmas Day were her Dora dolly twins...which she has named Juanita and Juanito (a nod to her brother and our friends Tamara and baby John in Boston) and they have not left her side since then!

Angie wearing her new pajamas and playing with Laura's new toys! (shh...don't tell!) The girls do a marvelous job of being creative and coming up with their own playtime story lines. They are quite the little 'mami's' and do a great job caring for their babies!

Angie under the tree (one of Mami & Papi's three best presents this year!) after a long Christmas Day. If you look close you'll see her new and improved 'do...with blue streaks! Cousin Abby got a kids hair dye kit for Christmas and Angie came home with blue streaks...Laura with pink! (it all washed out as easy as pie during the bath the next day!)

Christmas Joy! Juancho, Laura and Angie - Christmas 2007

PS - For those of you thinking we forgot to send you a Christmas card this year...never fear, they are coming soon! We figure bringing home these three treasures gave us a good reason to be a bit late on Christmas cards this year!

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas too!

Monday, December 10, 2007

We're Home!!!

For all you loyal readers out there, I'm sorry we've been MIA for the past few days! One of those days involved about 14 hours worth of travel to get us back home to FRIO ('COLD') Minnesota!

Our travel day on December 6th was a LONG one...we started by waking up at 4:30 AM to leave for the airport by 5:30 am. After a taxi mix-up, we were off to the airport a bit late, but things at the airport went really well and we made up the time we lost easily. As we waited to board our first plane, we visited with our friend Tamara and baby John ("Juanito") who were on our same plane to Atlanta and our new friends Megan with her daughter Maria and new son Benjamin (and her mom) who are all from Savage, MN! They literally live just five miles (or less!) from us here in Shakopee. We are looking forward to connecting with them more after the holidays! The flight to Atlanta went pretty smoothly - thankfully Angie slept for much of it! And thanks to Tia Michelle for the gift of the portable DVD player - a lifesaver when traveling!
Customs and Immigrations at Atlanta was tough only because the kids were restless and starving (we don't blame them - we were too!) and it took a long time. There weren't any problems though and around 3:30 PM Atlanta time, our kids became US Citizens! We got a little choked up realizing the significance of that! We ate lunch at Chili's in the airport and then split up - Juancho and Papi walked around the airport and looked at 'guy stuff' while Mami, Laura & Angie visited all the shops and enjoyed all the 'girly stuff'. We met up at our gate later, and waited for boarding. Thankfully there was an 'indoor playground' nearby that captivated the kids attention and energy (and gave Mami & Papi a chance to rest!).

Since then we've been unpacking suitcases, doing laundry, and experiencing a few 'firsts'! Of course there have been many snow 'firsts' like sledding (great fun!) and trying to make a snowball and snowman...unfortunately the snow is a little 'dry' for that. The children met Santa for the first time ever on Saturday night - as Santa toured the streets of Maple Plain (where Robert's dad & grandma live) and handed out bags of candy. That prompted the first time trying an "Atomic Fireball' candy...which was quickly determined to be NOT their favorite candy! :) There's been the 'first' visit to Target (to buy snowpants and snow boots, of course!) and our first visit to our gym to go swimming was today! Unfortunately our swimming adventure was cut short because some child (thankfully not one of ours) pooped in the pool! Ewww! We'll got back often though! All the children love swimming and are not afraid of the water...we may look at getting them involved in swimming lessons come this January!

It has been nice to have more than one room to spread out in, and to not worry about disturbing other families now that we are home. The children are enjoying their new rooms, toys and clothes. They are also learning the rules of the house...
"No, just because you have that many pants in your closet does not mean you can change your clothes that many times each day." (that was said to Laura - our girly girl clothes horse!)
"When you burp or fart at the table, we expect you to say 'Excuse Me' (or 'Perdon' in Spanish)" (this was said to Juancho - our true boy!)
"It hurts the puppy when you pull his ears/tail/hair/feet/etc." (said to Angie who is doing a great job of breaking PJ in to having kids!)

Here's a few pics for your viewing enjoyment! We look forward to having a few more firsts with the the first time they get to meet each one of you

After Juancho took a shower, I went in to make sure there wasn't a swimming pool on the floor, and this is what I found...look closely at the wall...very heartwarming!

After being a bit shy of PJ at first, Angie is doing a great job of getting PJ used to what it means to have kids in the house! And PJ is doing a GREAT job!

Sunday we put up the Christmas tree and made Christmas cookies...guess what color Laura picked for her cookies? You got it! PINK!!

Juancho picked blue, of course...he loves cooking! He helped Papi with breakfast this morning - he loves being 'the chef'!

Angie picked yellow & easily ate more of her dough than she ended up putting on the pan to be baked...but we all had a great time!

What kid can't find hours of fun with a box big enough to sit in?

Angie loved decorating the Christmas tree!

So did the rest of the family! Here are the older two helping Papi put on the lights.

The kids were barely out of bed on Friday when they were asking to go out and play in the snow. After a Target run to get snowpants, boots and sleds, the kids had a GREAT time out in the snow!

Laura in all her pink and purple glory!

It took about a half hour to get Angie into all her winter gear with how wiggly she was, but she loved being out in the snow!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Flight Itinerary

Hey folks!

The last two days have been a whirlwind as I'm sure you can imagine! But we had no troubles with obtaining the visas for the children - everything went very smoothly!

I had a great birthday too...thanks to all of your comments and e-mails!

Some of you have expressed interest in coming to the airport Thursday night to welcome us home! If that works for you, we would love to see some familiar faces! Our kids think it would be pretty neat to have a welcoming committee too!

So here are our flight details...

We are flying on Delta Airlines and will be taking our connecting flight from Atlanta to Minneapolis. The flight number is #1540 which leaves Atlanta at 8:10 PM (Eastern time) and arrives in Minneapolis at 9:50 PM (Central Time).

Since our connecting flight is a domestic flight, we will have done all of our Immigration & Customs stuff in Atlanta and will just come through the regular arrival doors to the baggage claim area. If you can't make it - we understand, it is a late arrival on a "school" night! But if you can, we'd love to see you!

Otherwise, we look forward to catching up with many of you in the next few weeks/months!

Love, The Dressel Familia!

PS - T-minus 6.5 hours before our plane takes off from the Bogota Airport!

PPS - Sorry no pics tonight...quick post to give you the flight info...I'll have to do a more comprehensive 'catch up' after we get home!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Passports & Doctors

Hi Everyone!

This will be a quick post as time is getting short now! This morning Papi & Juancho were up bright and early to head off with Mario to get Juancho's passport taken care of.
Cute Story: When the alarm went off at 6:30 am, I leaned over Juancho and rubbed his back saying 'Time to get up Juancho'. When he opened his eyes and looked at me I told him it was 6:30, time to get up. He looked at his new $2.50 Spiderman watch and saw that it was indeed 6:30 am. Then I think he realized that he was going to get his passport b/c a big smile spread over his face and he got right out of bed and was nearly undressed and in the shower before I even got the water warmed up! He was excited to get that passport completed!

Juancho & Papi got the passport taken care of (see photo below) and then stopped off at the Delta Airlines ticketing office on the way home to purchase the children's tickets for Thursday (ours had already been changed to Thursday). It is official! We will be landing in the Twin Cities at 5:45 pm on Thursday night, December 6th...HOORAY!!

Our doctor's appointment was scheduled for 6:30 PM, but then our representative Edith called us at 11:40 and said there had been a cancellation and could we go at 12:30 instead. That seemed to be a better time to us, so we got the children dressed and ready to go! We met with Dr. Juan Fajardo at 12:30 and he did a basic medical history on the kids and a brief examination of each one (height, weight, check the ears, nose, throat, etc.). All seemed to pass the test. They are small (which we knew)...all are in around the 10% mark for height and weight...except Angie. She is at the 10% mark for height, but doesn't even get on the chart for weight...she only weighs roughly around 23 pounds! No wonder her 2T pants are falling off of her! She'll grow (as they all will) with consistency, a good diet and lots of TLC! We've already noticed her cheeks plumping up a bit...and becoming more rosy!

Here are a few pics from the day. Tomorrow we apply for visas! In the afternoon Holly is getting a manicure (birthday present from Papi) and then the parent's are going out for a meal (in honor of Holly's b-day).

With love from Bogota,

The Dressel Familia!

Juancho & his NEW passport!

This is our new friend Ava (in a formula-induced "coma") who will be living about 20 minutes away from us in St. Louis Park, MN!!
Angie after 'postre' (dessert) tonight...can you tell she had something chocolate to eat? :)

Just so you know, it isn't always smiles & giggles...This is Angie at bedtime tonight letting us know loud & clear she didn't think it should be time for bed! But...

...5 minutes later she was happily reading a book with Mami...and 5 minutes after that she was sound asleep!

Sunday's Market Adventures!

In my quest to catch you up on what's happening here in Bogota, here is an early morning post to fill you in on Sunday's happenings. Robert & Juancho just left for the passport office with Mario. They will get Juancho's passport and will confirm our reservations for Thursday. Then they'll come back and have lunch with us. After lunch we all head to doctors appointments at the US Embassy! I'll let you know how the day goes tonight!

Yesterday we did another market day to finish our Christmas shopping for the year. We went to Usaquen - the same market as last week. It is a great large marketplace and we were able to get most of our shopping done there! After Usaquen, we walked to the nearby Santa Barbara mall, which is a very cool half outdoor mall with a lot of character. We looked in some of the shops there and then stopped for lunch. We went to a Mexican restaurant with Juancho & Laura (Angie stayed home with the babysitter, since there was a lot of walking...). The restaurant didn't have a kids menu, but the waitress told me the taco plate and burrito plate were the smallest. So I asked Juancho & Laura if they would rather have a taco or a burrito. They looked at me strangely and asked 'what is a taco?' and 'what is a burrito?'! It seemed so strange to me that two children who had grown up in a Latino culture didn't know what a taco and a burrito is! But truly, the food is quite different in Colombia than you'd find in Mexico. We ended up ordering Nachos and a Quesadilla instead...but they weren't big fans of either. Weird kids. :)

Before we left in the morning, we felt that it was important to review our Family Rules List on our door, since Saturday night saw a few meltdowns and we wanted to prevent more on our Sunday outing. Both kids did great during the morning market time...but Juancho had trouble at lunch. He was given a number of chances to change his behavior, and was told he would have to stay home for the afternoon if he did not change his behavior. He chose not to change his behavior, so after lunch we took a taxi home to drop off Juancho with Angie and the babysitter. Since Laura was behaving well and responded to the things we had asked of her, she was able to come with to the afternoon market at La Fontana.
La Fontana is a fancy hotel that has a Sunday market each week. There were a number of upscale items for sale and quality handicrafts. We purchased a handpainted photo scrapbook with a Colombia scene on the front. We had them add our family name "La Familia Dressel" and the year. We plan to use this to document our trip to receive our children. (So girls...let me know anytime there is another 'Scrapbooking Day' being planned!)

After La Fontana, Laura, Robert and I walked back to our residencia. For dinner, we and Sarah (along with Diana and Jamie) went to TGI Fridays for dinner! It was great to have some familiar food, be in a place where the menu was (mostly) in English, and American music was being played! The kids all did pretty well at dinner, with a few reminders of the rules. Afterwards we walked through a large nearby park that was completely decorated for Christmas with a large Christmas tree, a large Nativity set depicting the whole town of Bethlehem. Every tree in the park was also decked out with lights, glowing stars and large Christmas balls. It was gorgeous! It was packed out with people much fun! The most Christmas spirit I've had's kinda tough to think Christmas when there is no snow or cold weather! We know we will get that soon enough though!

Here's a couple pics from today...T- minus 3.5 days to Homecoming! See you soon!

Love, The Dressel Familia!

Street Performers are commonplace in Bogota. At red lights they come out and perform, and just before the light turns green, they walk along asking for donations from drivers. Performers range from children doing backflips to intense performers like these three men balancing on each others shoulders and juggling sticks lit on fire!

On our way to the Usaquen market we walked through a little park that had a Christmas tree decorated with Coca Cola bottles and had the Coca Cola polar bears on display too. Juancho & Laura just had to be photographed with the bears!

Robert and Laura outside of the La Fontana Hotel. There was a small market held in the indoor courtyard

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Saturday's Happenings...

Well...I had written a great long post about Saturday's events...with history and more...but when I tried to format the paragraph, the post disappeared! Argh. It is late now, so I'll just do the pictures and give a little info with them that will give you an idea of our day on Saturday!

This is the church at the top of Monserrate. It was built in 1640 and originally house a monastery as well. Pilgrims still trek up the hill on Sunday's to make a pilgrimage for mass. The church is a monument to 'El Senor Caido'; "The Fallen Lord" People leave plaques giving thanks to prayers that have been answered.

The Dressel Familia on top of Monserrate. You may notice that Laura looks a bit distracted and concerned...she had a bee buzzing around her at the time of the photo...Angie seemed to notice too! :)

This is the view of Bogota from the top of Monserrate. It is a huge city! Can you find one of the most important locations in the Bogota in this picture?
The 'Futbol' Stadium?!
The children (ours plus Jamie & Diana, daughters of our friends Sarah & John from NY) in front of the 1st of the 14 Stations of the Cross that were depicted in monuments along the walk from the train that we took up to the top of the mountain. (no, we did not walk would have taken over 2 hours! The train only took 5 minutes...but it seemed a bit death defying...we'll have to upload the video one day!)

The children plus our guide Jorge Rico at the restaurant we went to for lunch in La Candelaria - the oldest region of Bogota!

The mountain behind this roof is Monserrate...and the white dot on top is the church we visited earlier in the day (when the sun was out and there were no clouds!). The roof in this pic is the roof of the restaurant we ate at!

We went on a walking tour of La Candelaria - the oldest neighborhood in Bogota. This neighborhood was originally settled by the Spanish and is known for it's colonial style homes, cobblestone streets, museums and rich history. It was a very quaint area. This church is one of the oldest, and most ornate, in all of Bogota. It was designed after classic Italian church architecture.

This building is the House of Congress and is just outside the Plaza de Bolivar. It is on the edge of the Candelaria region and is just down the street from the President's mansion. The street the President's home is on is closed to cars, but we walked down it. People cannot walk on the sidewalks nor take any pictures! There is a guard stationed every 10 feet to make sure none of the above (or any other problems) occur. The current President of Colombia, Rafael Uribe, is said to be the best President that Colombia has ever had.

This is how we all felt by the end of the day - though Angie was the only one able to take advantage of the opportunity to sleep!
More on what we did Sunday tomorrow. PS - Juancho will be leaving bright and early tomorrow (Monday) morning to go get his passport now that his corrected birth certificate has arrived! All three children will be at the US Embassy doctor tomorrow afternoon to be seen...and by Tuesday morning we should be ready to apply for their visas! Yippee! The countdown is on! T-minus 4 days til Homecoming!!!
The Dressel Familia!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Friday's Happenings...

Hi Friends & Family!

So we made it official today with Delta Airlines...Thursday will be our homecoming day! We will arrive in Minneapolis in the evening...we'll let you know specifics when we pick up our tickets on Monday. We had to move it back one day because we lost a day with the paperwork error that was made with Juancho's amended birth certificate. We have all the corrected documents now, and will get Juancho's passport on Monday, along with having the kids US Embassy doctors appointments on Monday afternoon. Tuesday we'll apply for our visas...Wednesday we'll pick them up, and Thursday morning we will head home...HOORAY!!!

The last 2 days were jam packed for us...I'll tell you what we did with pictures:

Us (plus Diana & Jamie) with Corinne & her baby Alexanne. They went home (along with Corinne's mother Micheline) to France on Friday morning...we will miss them! They were great friends here at Betty's Place!

Laura at Divercity on the River Rapids ride! (Note: Divercity is a mini-city for children. Children 'work' at various jobs (like a veterinarian, a fireman, a doctor, etc.) to earn 'money'. With thier money they can pay for different fun things to do (like the river rapids or getting a manicure or playing soccer) It was a lot of fun...and very educational for the children!)

Juancho & Laura at Divercity after obtaining their 'Driver's License'!

Laura driving at Divercity

Juancho driving at Divercity

Juancho as a paramedic at Divercity

Friday night, the parents went out to dinner at a restaurant called 'El Museo de Tequila' (or The Tequila Museum). Of course there was all kinds of tequila available (yuck), but the best part was the authentic Mexican food, and the mariachis! (Drea, we were thinking of you and Papa Zarate!)

Holly, Robert and our friend Tamara at the Tequila Museum restaurant...complete with our sombreros!

This is what we came home sweet!