Mike talks about... Manana Time

Manana in the Spanish dictionary means tomorrow. However, the word seems to be open to various interpretations.

Manana according to our builder usually means four weeks from now, if we're lucky.

Manana according to the pool chemical supplier means the chlorine is on the boat in Miami.

Manana is the promise of the car dealer, when the part you need is in Japan.

Things are also promised manana when the store doesn't have what you need -- and never will. It is also used when they have no idea what you just tried to say in Spanish.

Alecia and I need to learn the Spanish words for "sometime in our lifetime." At least then we'd feel more honest.

"Island Time" is another frequently used term. Meeting a gringo at nine on Monday generally means sometime that morning. To a Honduran, it means the first part of the week.

The twins interpret time very differently. If we are going swimming after lunch, it means taking off their clothes... immediately. In the kitchen, in the grocery store, wherever. Mention the beach and they are out the door and halfway down the hill before you can find your shoes. For two-year-olds, manana is not an operating concept.

My watch stopped working a couple of weeks ago. I've decided I don't even need it. Manana will come soon enough.
Contributed with love and frustration by Michael Kintner, Delaney and Hayden's dad


Two are Two

Mike and I survived the twins' birthday -- barely.

I made a number of mistakes, I admit it. I'm new at this.

I baked the cupcakes for school the night before, but left them til the morning to be frosted. Lo and behold, Hayden saw them before he had eaten his Cheerios and forgot all about nutrition. They ate cupcakes and waffles with "'rup" for breakfast.

Then I spilled the sprinkles all over the floor and mussed up the tube of royal icing. So, the cupcakes were more or less undecorated. I forgot the candles, but they were a fire hazard anyway.

I didn't get the rest of the cupcakes hidden, so they were right there on the counter when we got home from school. They ate cupcakes for breakfast, snack and lunch. By dinnertime I had smartened up and squirreled them away, but then realized I didn't really have a dinner plan and considered bringing them back out.

I wrapped the birthday presents ahead of time, but left them on the dining room table. Sure enough, the paper was a strong attraction. Hayden climbed up on a chair to pull them down, knocking over Mike's diet coke can in the process.

Being now two, Delaney and Hayden insisted on "lid Off" of their sippy cups. Being a cool Mom, I figured, they are now two, so why not? Three spilled drinks later, I was back to saying "lid ON".

Same with the juice boxes, whose straws are normally too complex for little mouths. (It is confusing: you tip your head back to drink from a cup, but hold your box down to sip from a straw. Think about it.) Delaney immediately spilled her vitamin-fortified OJ on her new shirt and pulled it Off. Good thing her classmates are used to this.

And on the big day, a new accomplishment that leaves us quaking in our flip flops: Hayden is now strong enough and smart enough to open the giant GE Monogram refrigerator by himself. This means he feels entitled to choose drinks and snacks as he pleases. Delaney conspires; with four hands they managed to pull out the pickle jar and drop it on the floor.

Next he'll be reaching for Daddy's Corona's.

No wait, he's been doing that since he was a baby.

The last two years have gone by very quickly. I guess that makes up for how slow some days seem to go on their own. I know, I know, we wouldn't trade it for anything. Happy birthdays, Delaney and Hayden.


One Choice, Maybe

My mom and I recently went shopping for Delaney and Hayden's second birthday, which is on Tuesday.

Roatan has three toy stores, that I am aware of, that carry a limited selection of nice-enough imported toys. The best one is in Coxen Hole. Mom and I went to the other two, in French Harbor, because they were closer and Jesse-the-babysitter only stays til 4 o'clock.

For months I have been looking for a new child-size table and chair set. We used to have one, purchased from a Coxen Hole pulperia, but Mike sat on the orange plastic table and it -- and he -- went crashing to the floor. (This greatly amused Delaney and Hayden, until they realized that they no longer had a place for playdough.) I haven't been able to find another one on the island since. There are dozens of little plastic chairs for sale in the markets, but no tables. Kind of like the island being out of milk and bread most of the time.

I could go to a local carpenter and get a table custom-made (and probably will eventually), but I didn't get around to it in time for the birthday. I know, what kind of parent am I.

So I hoped that Bormac's (above the Gone Bananas internet cafe, next door to the Pizza Inn and across the street from Eldon's), might at least have a table if not a motherlode of good toddler gifts.

My first thought upon entering was wow, I'll be able to find something here that will excite them. My second thought was wow, they have exactly one type of table, and boy, is it ugly. Orange, again (what's with that?) and decorated with Lightning McQueen race cars. Like Herbie the Love Bug, and also courtesy of Disney Pixar. But no Little Mermaid equiavalent to go with it, so Delaney and Hayden will each be getting a table with a grinning speedster on it. Just what our house was lacking.

Bormac's also had one relevant art supply, a finger paint set that I had almost bought last summer at a beautiful Houston toy store but then decided was too heavy for our luggage. So bingo, one more present.

Mom and I then studied every single shelf and found two more toys that fit the bill: an airplane with accessories like a uniformed captain and luggage carts (very cool) and a car-transporter big-rig truck that goes "beep beep" (Hayden's current favorite expression). Neither is of Fisher Price quality, but they'll do. And again, nothing with particularly feminine appeal, but mom was already planning to give Delaney a new baby doll brought from the much better-stocked stores of Los Angeles. So that's covered.

We also stumbled on a large bag of plastic farm animals, which Mike later said will help Delaney and Hayden teach me which is which.

At the second store, we were pressured to buy a variety of High School Musical items. I tried to explain that the babies were only turning 2, and had no idea what high school or a bad musical was, and besides that I didn't want to buy movie-themed gifts (ignoring for a moment the fact that I had just invested in two Lightning McQueen tables and chairs).

This store did have two, and only two, thankfully two, Elmo books, so I bought those. You can never have enough Elmo.

Mom and I felt like we had accomplished a lot, though it was hard not to think about the thousands of choices back home at Toys R Us. This year Delaney and Hayden will get what's available, and not necessarily what I might have spent months (and way too much money) shopping for in the U.S.

I know they'll love their presents all the same. Particularly the unwrapping part, ripping off the one kind of birthday gift paper that I could find at Eldon's.

Here they were last Friday, getting some advance gifts from Meme and Bopa.
Having their grandparents here for the last three weeks has been the best present of all.


No Leche Aqui (and other stories)

If there was any doubt that I am a City Girl born of City Folk, it's been erased by my parents, who are currently visiting. Yesterday dad was driving along the Mountain Road with Mike. He saw a large animal ahead and said, "Look, there's a cow." Mike replied patiently, "John, that's a horse."

In a strangely parallel universe, mom was riding with me and the babies along the Dump Road. "Look kids," she said with great excitement. "There's a sheep!"

"Goa" answered Hayden with certainty. A goat.

No one knows their farm animals better than a two-year-old. Mom said, "Oh, that's right."

I'm not trying to embarrass my darling parents, but simply to remember my own roots. We come from a place where roads are paved and the only chicken crossing them is an extra on his way to a movie shoot. It's a rare pig or hen that I call by the right name as I drive through our island wilderness now.

It's a much simpler life here, and also far more complicated. This week the island is out of milk. (Maybe I should talk to that goat.)

No fresh milk to be found, and the supply of boxed milk is dwindling. I'll be mixing powdered milk by the end of the weekend. Not that there's anything wrong with that. At least we have clean water to mix it with. But it shows how the basics can get taken for granted.

Shopping for produce is different than at home, too. On a good day, you can chase down a fruit truck and buy directly from its crates. Generally these trucks have purchased their fruits and veggies right off the boats, so they are the freshest around. By the time the same stuff reaches the markets, it's shriveled and ugly.

So I'm always grateful when I find myself in the same place as the fruit truck, and if I also happen to have money in my wallet. Because of course, they don't take credit cards. Roatan is a cash economy. Here's how a favorite hangout, the Twisted Toucan, reminds their customers of this:

OK, but remember that it takes 18.9 lempiras to equal one dollar. Try figuring out whether a pound of beans, four onions, two canteloupes and a watermelon for 160 lemps is a good deal or not.

But the most complex part of our current terrain is located 1/4 mile outside of Palmetto. The Hill. Requires four-wheel drive in locked position to keep from sliding down sideways, or worse. Uh-oh, say Delaney and Hayden. They've seen heavy trucks stuck in the mud on several occasions. Fortunately, we've gotten up and down each time safely, but it's a hold-your-breath slip-sliding-away kind of maneuver. This photo is from a few months ago; sorry to say no bulldozer has appeared recently to smooth the way. We're holding out hope for manana.

In the meantime we'll keep brushing up on our barnyard vocab and mixing scrambled eggs with heavy cream. Eventually a boat will come in with milk and the road will get graded. Til then, buenas noches. And Happy Valentine's Day.


I Be Beesh

Delaney has spoken her first two complete sentences this month. The first is a firm declaration of where she wants to go: the beach.

"I Be Beesh"

"Get me down to the sand now, Mom, and don't forget my Bah-Pah of toys."

Beesh is sometimes confused with Bees, another Delaney trademark. She's shown here wearing both her beads and her backpack of sand toys as she heads to the beach.

Her second sentence is a clear proclamation of innocence when something has gone wrong: "AyNee Di Id." Hayden did it.
This is generally followed by "Uh Oh" repeated a hundred times.

In his defense, Hayden has mastered a charming smile combined with a less-charming NO for emphasis.
Who threw the 50 diapers over the banister? Aynee Di Id. Who poured his drink onto the counter to see what would happen? Aynee. Who tore the elephant from the E page in the book? Aydnee, of course.

Sometimes, though, it's Noma who's at fault. Our dog, Sonoma. Mike and I call her Nomsie for short, but Delaney and Hayden now call her Noma.

Poor Noma is often accused of stealing crackers from little fingers. The little fingers don't understand that when they hold out a cookie, a dog will reasonably think that's an invitation. But then Delaney stomps a foot and cries "NO NO Noma. Noma, NO NO."

Noma is also a partner in all kinds of mischief. Part babysitter, part two-year-old herself, Sonoma is right beside Delaney and Hayden for most of their adventures.

Now, which of them do you think will need to be rescued from the pool?

That's right, it was Aynee. We pulled him out sputtering and surprised.

"Uh Oh," said Delaney.
At least one hundred times.