Monday, March 31, 2008

March Wrap Up

It's the end of March? I can't believe it.

This months been a little tough in the goal department because of my maid's accident. I haven't had as much time to pursue my goals since I've been busy cooking and cleaning and doing laundry and fun stuff like that. I am actually much happier being at home by myself, but the cleaning does get a little old after a while.

Vanessa took two weeks off, got her cast off (really just some ace bandages) and came back for two days. She obviously wasn't better because she couldn't walk so I told her to go back to the doctor. There's a serious problem here with dengue right now, so the hospitals are full of sick people making things like hurt legs not so important in the public hospitals. So, I paid for her to go to a private doctor (only $15.00) and they told her foot was, in fact, broken (the first doctor at the public hospital told her it was just bruised). So, now she has one of those boot things on and won't be working for the next 35 days. At least. So, I'm playing musical muchachas with her mom and cousin a couple of days a week.

Anyway, on to my goals:

1) Exercise: I think I was 19 for 25 days again. I made improvements over February because I started adding some long runs in prep for my 1/2 marathon in June. I think I upped my mileage a little too fast because 2 days after my 70 minute run last week, while I was out on a jog, my ankle started hurting and swelled up. I had to take a cab home from my run. :( It's feeling better now, but I'm going to give it a few more days to heal.

2)Pick up after myself: My clothes are picked up for the most part, and now Pedro's highchair tray is usually clean. So, I am going to add keeping clutter out of my bedroom this month. I hate piles of "stuff", especially in my bedroom.

3) Laundry: going fine, I'm getting it done earlier in the day and that makes my nights more relaxing. I don't think I'll report on this goal again. GOAL ACCOMPLISHED.

4) Hug my Kids: Sadly, I've found that doing all of the housework makes me grouchier towards my kids, especially when they add to my workload (which is like every.single.second they are awake). I better learn how to be nice to my kids even though I have to clean; we're not going to live this life forever!

5) Learn Excel: Huh??? No time in March for this goal. Sorry Excel, I still think you're cool, but you're not too useful at cleaning potties.

6) Portuguese: Slowly improving. Guapo and I had to give talks in church a couple of weeks ago in Portuguese, that's always an adventure. And I feel like my English and Spanish are getting worse and worse, so that's a good sign, I guess...

7) Primary songs: Just one: "We'll Bring the World His Truth" which our primary president prefers to "Called to Serve" for the primary program.

Not such a productive month, but what with Pedro's and Margarita's birthdays, no maid, Easter, and our little trip, all and all I'm satisfied.

thanks for humoring me, I know these posts about my goals are boring...

Friday, March 28, 2008

They're Mine, All Mine!!!

Beloging to a book club here in Brazil is one of the few social activities I'm involved in. It's a traveling library kind of book club, not the read the same book and talk about it. every two weeks, have some food and check out new books. The group is made up of anywhere from 15 to 20 women, 6 of them "permanent members" (those residing in Brazil for the long haul), and the rest "temporary members" (those of us coming and going).

It's my turn to host in April. That means I get to have the books all to myself for a month (well, except those that are checked out)!!! Yay!!!

This is causing several problems.

  1. Pressure. I feel overwhelmed by all the books I haven't read. Where to begin? I've started about 10 so far.
  2. Depression (I'm exaggerating here, I'm not really depressed). Ok all of you Twilight fans, did you find that after you had read the Twilight books you really couldn't get excited about other books? I feel like those books were a drug for me-I am looking for that high of having a page turner and I haven't found anything else yet that gives me that same vampire rush. I miss my vampires!
  3. Messes. It's hard to keep Pedro away from the books:

Here he is doing his baby sign for "book" (I've been teaching him a few signs. Guapo refers to him now as "Koko"):

Awwwww, isn't that cute? I didn't even tell him to do it, he just did it!

So if you'll excuse me, I've got some serious reading to do.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Our Weekend Getaway

Post-vacation posts always hang me up, thus the lack of posting. I like to avoid the ole, "come on over and watch our 5 hour slide show from the Grand Canyon" post, but, at the same time, I think it's important to record our trip memories.

Despite my pre-trip grouchiness, we had a great time and I was glad we had the chance to go.

We went to the mountains with a a guy that Guapo works with, his daughter and his very pregnant girlfriend/fiancee (not quite sure what's going on there). His family has an awesome vacation house on a big piece of land in this remote mountain town about 3 hours out of the city. It was like going to a private hotel-it had caretakers that cooked, cleaned-up after us and made sure we were comfortable at all times.

We spent the first day and a half trying to figure our the name of the pregant girlfriend. The guy kept referring to her as "minha amor" and I thought it would be a little awkward to ask the help her name since we had come with them as invited guests, so it was tough to actually crack the case. Guapo eventually did figure it out and then I overused her name the last day.

My stereotypes about Brazilians were only strengthened over the course of the weekend: they know how to relax and enjoy life and they really, really know how to EAT. We were eating full, big, yummy meals every 3 to 4 hours. I love to eat, so it was great.

The best thing about the trip was that it was pretty much the exact opposite of our big city life. Here, we live in an apartment smack dab in the center of busy streets, lots of buildings, tons of traffic, etc. etc. We have no place to set the kids free.

Our mountain retreat provided us with jungle hiking trails:

a large fresh spring water pool (Julio kept showing me how he could drink the water):

a fishing pond:

a brick oven for making home pizza:

a nightly bonfire:

and last but not least, dogs: of which was the size of a small horse:

My kids were in heaven. I hope we're invited back sometime (now that I know her name and all...).

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Out of Town

We're going out of town in one hour (supposedly, Guapo still isn't home from work). It think it would be so nice to take trips as a man; just show up at the last second and everything that a family of six could possibly want or need for a weekend away is magically ready to go.

But, that's a post for another day (no time-I've got to get busy around here-the stuff isn't packing itself).

I don't even know where we're going. We had this guy over from Guapo's work about 6 weeks ago and he mentioned his family's house up in the mountains-it sounded so fun at the time, and now that it's upon me I'm not as enthused. First of all, I've only met this guy and his his fiancée (who only speaks Portuguese) that one time. Second of all-we have 4 kids. They're great kids and all, but they are kids none the less. And thirdly, traveling with a baby is just not high on my list of super fun things to do. Pedro's gear is going to take up half the car.

We are going to take our four kids to some house that's not kid proof to stay with people I barely know. Sounds like a good time?

Oh well.


Awwwww, my little baby.

We'll be back Saturday night.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Boy After My Own Heart

So you're familiar with the earth's layers right? From inside out they consist of the inner core, outer core, mantle and crust. Julio is studying all about the earth right now and he brought home this a couple of days ago-it was too cute for me not to blog about.

Note the text underlined in red: "My favorite part of the earth is the crust. Because it has candy."

I feel exactly the same way-there's no candy in those boring core regions.

Since he's not normally one of my sweet-toothed children (that would be a two-way tie between Margarita and Juan Carlos), I'm thinking it's because the earth they made kind of looks like a big jawbreaker. Don't you think?

And look at his teacher's comment: "Be sure to focus on the topic given" :) I'd have a hard time focusing if I were staring at a big jawbreaker. Geesh!

(Please take note: March 18, 2008: The day Gabs learned to scan something)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy Birthday Margarita!

Here's my little girl 10 years ago. This is one of my all time favorite pictures-because it was the moment when I became a mom.

We didn't find out what we were having (we never do) and we were sure she was a boy. I'll never forget Guapo saying, "It's a girl?!?" when she was born. The wonderful surprise of having a girl made the month of bed rest, two embarrassing false-alarm trips to the hospital (one involving getting "checked" by a handsome ER doc in Moab while Guapo looked on), and the awful delivery, totally worth it.

I remember not wanting to go home from the hospital- I didn't have a clue what to do with a baby! My parents came in for the birth but then had to leave before I left the hospital, so I went home a new mom without my mom or Guapo's mom (Margarita arrived 3 weeks early and she had already purchased her ticket for a week after her due date). Luckily, I got a good one-she was a great baby and has been pretty easy ever since then. I have this, what I am sure is an erroneous idea that "girls are easy, boys are hard" because she has just been a breeze. I know, you're thinking-wait til she's a teenager, and maybe you're right, but for now, she continues to be my good girl.

She is the first grandchild on my family's side

..and she was the second in Guapo's family. Here she is with her older cousin (Guapo made her wear the disgusting Laker jersey):

There are now 11 grand kids on Guapo's side and these two are STILL THE ONLY GIRLS!

You've probably noticed I don't blog about her as much as I do the boys. I feel like I have to protect her privacy-I'm thinking at some point she won't want people having access to her life on the Internet. The boys are still younger and I mostly just blog about funny little things they say or do. She's kind of past that age so to blog about her I would have to give info I'm not sure she'd appreciate me giving out later on in life. I'm sure I'll reach that point with each of my kids as they grow up.

But, you should know she is a great girl. She is very talented in many ways and I hope she will take the time to develop those talents-especially now while she is young and has lots of free time. She is a great big sister, someone who can get along with just about anyone, almost always happy, independent and just a fun person to be around.

To celebrate, she had a small birthday party-3 friends came over; we went swimming and then out for sushi-one of the benefits of living all over the place-my kids will eat almost anything. Margarita LOVES sushi. She will even eat plain seaweed!

I gave Vanessa $25 to do a little "Brazilian-birthday-table-magic" She decided on a horse theme since Margarita loves horses:

I made the cake (totally professional looking, don't you think? not):

Happy Birthday Margarita! Thanks for being such a wonderful daughter. :) I love you!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Mid-March Randomness

First off, thanks for all of your kind words in regard to my aunt who passed away this week. Traci was right, Aunt Bruna was a character and I will miss seeing her at family reunions and eating her scrumptious Italian cooking.

And to all concerned parties (MOM), when said I Pedro makes me "want to have 5 other babies just like him" I was just exaggerating!

All About Bad Guys

Juan Carlos (4 1/2 yrs) is afraid of "robbers" and "bad guys" right now. Especially right before bed. Julio (7 yrs) is always very sweet and patient and helps reassure him by telling him about our building's very high gate, the guards, the surveillance cameras, the many locks on the doors, etc.

A couple of days ago he asked Guapo about where"robbers" live and Guapo tried to explain that they are just normal people that decide to take things that aren't theirs and therefore they live in houses and apartments just like we do. That was not acceptable. He replied, "But they live in little houses right?"

On the way to school today he asked me if "bad guys" have moms and I told him they did. Then he asked, "Do bad guys have bad moms?" That one kind of surprised me. I had to tell him "no, not always" just in case any of my kids turn out to be "bad guys". (knocking on wood)

Pedro Expands His Resume

You already know that Pedro is into origami, but recently he has added drawing to his fast growing list of talents. Rarely is he seen now without a crayon in his chubby little hand. Here he is with a pink crayon:

...and, here he is 3 minutes later with a green crayon:

(will you look at those cheesy smiles? if the artist thing doesn't work out he can still model.)

Time to hide the crayons.

(shhhhh, I don't want to jinx myself, but Pedro has slept through the last 3 out of 4 nights!!!)

My Maid's Two Week Paid Vacation

...all she had to do was get hit by a car. She came over today to prove that she really had a cast and to bring me her doctor's note saying she can't work for two weeks.

No more manicures and bon bons for me, it's 2 weeks of cleaning potties and scrubbing floors.

Kitty's Comfort Knows No Bound

It was Pedro who spotted Kitty taking a nap this time. He started pointing and saying "meow" when he noticed her. Here she is from Pedro's vantage point:

She was way up here:

Book Club Dictator

Can I tell you how much I love my new position in my book club?

I am the "Book Buyer". That means, when members take trips to the States, they ask me to tell them what books to bring back. Maybe I should explain; we are not a normal everyone-reads-a-book-and-we-talk-about-it book club, it is a sort of "traveling library full of books in English" sort of book club. We pay a yearly due and then as people buy books to add to the library, they are reimbursed for their purchases.

A lady this week emailed me and asked me to give her 4 titles to buy. I inherited a list of books to buy from the previous book buyer, but I am pretty much just disregarding it. I got on Amazon and chose 4 books I want to read and sent her the titles.


I hope I don't get fired.

And, remember the lady who stole to my white elephant Christmas present? She's moving! I don't have to pretend to be nice to her anymore while all the while I am burning up inside, coveting the Spaghettio's and Stove Top her kids got to eat. (again with the exaggeration!)

Things are really looking up around here.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Sad Times in Expatlandia

After living a very long, full life, my great aunt died yesterday; she was my grandpa's brother's wife. She has been the matriarch on my dad's side of the family for many years. She left behind the kind of legacy I hope to achieve in my life: family members that loved her and cared for her until the end and that love and care for each other. I think it would be so much easier to go knowing your family members will take care and be there for each other. She has two daughters, 4 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. She will be missed by all of them. On the happy side, she has been a widow since 1986, and I am sure she will have a wonderful reunion with her husband.

It's times like these that makes living so far away really hard. I would really like to go be with my family not only to remember my aunt but also to strengthen family ties with my extended family. :(

I'll miss you Aunt Bruna!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

My Attempt to Stop Time

I know. It's been the Pedro Show around here lately.

Humor me here people.

I'm having a bit of a mid-life crisis-my baby turned one and now my oldest is about to turn 10. How am I old enough to have a kid in the double digits? I'm still like 24-right???

In an attempt to capture this moment in time I will share with you what Pedro is like right now.

  • Pedro is a super easy-going baby. Only a handful of times in his life, and those were all during the first few months, has he cried and I couldn't console him. He almost never cries. He whines when he's hungry or tired or really bored, but other than that the kid is just content.

  • Only on rare occasions does Pedro show his dark side:

  • Although Pedro didn't want to eat solids at first, he now eats pretty much everything. His favorite things are bananas, pasta, and mango.

  • Pedro is very coordinated, but also very cautious. It only took him one fall off the bed to remember that he has to turn himself around. He crawled at 8 months and is now standing by himself, but he doesn't walk yet even though his little legs are strong-I think he just doesn't want to fall. Once he starts walking, I'm pretty sure he'll run later the same day.

  • Pedro loves music. The magnetic toy in the photo above plays music when he hits the button. He spends a lot of his waking hours dancing in front of the fridge.

  • Pedro loves to make messes. He's recently learned how to turn on the bidet. Water + toliet paper = BIG MESS.

  • Pedro loves to swim. Margarita and I will stand in the pool about 3 ft apart and send him back and forth between us-he doesn't mind at all going under the water. When he comes up he claps.

  • If there's any category I'd give Pedro anything less than an A+ it would be in the sleep department. The kid still doesn't sleep through the night and I'm starting to wonder if he ever will. My body has pretty much adjusted to it so I'm not too tired. I do hope for a whole night's sleep in the year to come.

  • Pedro really has a thing for birds. My other kids have liked dogs and cats, but Pedro is a bird guy.

  • He only says two words right now with any regularity. "Bird" (see above), and "Meow" when he sees Ron or Kitty. Sometimes he'll say "Mama" and he used to say "bye-bye" but he's given that up for a simple wave.

  • Pedro got his first tooth at 7 1/2 months and now has 7 teeth.

  • Pedro wakes up happy.
  • Pedro makes me want to have 5 more babies just like him which really freaks Gaupo out.

I don't want him to grow up. How can I stop this from happening???

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Pedro Turns One!

My little baby is turning 1.

The first birthday here in Brazil is a MAJOR deal-the biggest of all birthdays-requiring a huge celebration. I'm talking about a party wherein the parents must invite all of their friends, their friends' friends, relatives, co-workers, relatives of co-workers, acquaintances, people whom they've never actually spoken to, but who live in a 3-block-radius, and anyone who may have laid eyes on the child sometime during his or her first year.

I explained to our maid that in lieu of the Party of the Decade we (the cheap, practical Americans) prefer to have The Simple Family Party.

I tried to explain to her the elements of The Simple Family Party:

  1. A cake, specially made by moi, from a box mix. Normally a 9 X 13 cake still in the pan, but if it is really special I might make 2 8" circles and stack them up.
  2. A traditional rendition of "Happy Birthday"
  3. Allowing the birthday baby to strip down to his or her diaper and make mincemeat out of a piece of the cake.
  4. A few presents
  5. Maybe a few games for the older kids, depending on my energy level and mood.
She was of course, very, very disappointed. She told me how he knows he's turning one and he would so enjoy a more suitable party. I told her he'd turn out just fine even if he had a Simple Family Party.

But the look on her face just killed me. Next to me and Guapo and possibly his grandparents, there's no one else in the world that loves him more than Vanessa. And, I started to doubt myself and my parenting skills-maybe I was screwing up my kids by not adequately commerating their special day.

So I gave her 50 bucks and told her to knock herself out planning a party for Pedro, and that she could bring her three kid and husband over for the American/slightly Brazilian festivity. (She spent over $1,000 USD on each of her 3 children's 1st birthday parties, so I'm sure she was appalled at my cheapness in regard to my son's milestone).

So her whole gang came over on Saturday and helped set up. Here's what she did:

(look at the front of the tablecloth/ruffle thing-those are pictures of Pedro that she printed out and laminated-cute huh? and check out that extra-special-double-decker-cake! Vanessa was less than impressed with my skills)

The birthday "table" is very important here. I'm finally getting that. The parties here are centered around this table that is elaborately decorated with a particular theme in mind. The normal theme for a 1 year old is clowns. Don't worry, they weren't too scary.

Here's Vanessa with Pedro:

Here he is playing with some confetti (do you know how much Guapo loves confetti inside the house? A whole lot.)

And here he is enjoying his cake:

(you can't tell me he would have been any happier had we dropped 5 grand on his birthday)

To prove to the Brazilians we know how to party we got out the broom handle limbo stick and really got crazy. Even Guapo joined in on the fun:

I'm not sure we convinced them that The Simple Family Party is where it's at, but we all had a good time.

Happy Birthday Pedro! I love you!