Sunday, April 27, 2008

April- the Anti-Goal Month

I know, it's not really the end of April yet, but I kind of wish it were. This month has been a tough one for us, and my 2008 goals have really suffered.

Here's a perfect example:

Dinner was hours ago and yet Pedro's highchair is still nasty. (I am supposed to be cleaning it right after he eats but that's obviously not happening)

Neither's picking up all my clothes, or learning Excel (I'm starting to wonder whey I ever wanted to learn Excel in the first place, it's been 4 months and I haven't had a need for it. Maybe we'll scratch that one)

I am still hugging my kids and playing piano occasionally and exercising fairly regularly so I guess that's good.

April's been a full month:

But, the main thing that has happened is that aliens have taken my sweet, mild-mannered baby Pedro and replaced him with a identical monster baby!!!

Suddenly he's arching his back,

he's climbing up stuff,

he's banging his head on the floor in protest,

he's screaming and crying when I tell him "no",

he's obsessing with a capital "O" over getting his hands on anything with buttons,

he's pulling my hair and pinching my nose and laughing about it.


We had to hide the water cooler in Margarita's bedroom after he flooded the upstairs. Now he stands at her door and cries. It's only a matter of days before he learns how to open the door.

(that's a rubber lizard just in case you were wondering)

I know, I know, this is normal stuff-I had just kind of blocked this phase out of my mind and am stunned because it came on so suddenly.

I was not prepared for this and now I'm paying the price.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Our Up and Coming Jedi

We took Pedro's cast off and his arm appears to be all better, thank goodness. I think my regular maid will be back later this week. Even though she tries to sell me crappy, overpriced sheets, I still like her. For now.

Pedro felt so much better that he picked up light saber and started dueling with his brothers.

We are all about Star Wars these days; it's kind of an obsession at our house. It's pretty much all Julio (7 years) can think about, talk about, or draw about. He is constantly quizzing me (and anyone else who will listen) on Star Wars characters, lines from the movies, colors of light sabers and other topics of which I know very little about (I only ever really cared about Han Solo). It's a quality that I really love about Julio-when he is excited about something, it becomes his whole life and his enthusiasm gets us all involved.

I even had a dream the other night that I was pregnant*; in the dream some man touched my stomach and said, "You are caring yet another Jedi Knight". :)

*No, I'm not actually pregnant, but if I were, I am quite certain that it would, indeed, be another little Jedi

Friday, April 18, 2008

Lest You Think Having a Maid is All Fun and Games

This is a Muchacha Moment vent.

Yes, that's Pedro with a little cast on his little baby arm. My first child to have a cast.

Where to begin?

In the beginning of March my maid was hit by a car and broke her leg. The first doctor she saw told her it wasn't broken and therefore didn't treat it properly. She took the allowed two weeks off and we paid her. She returned to work mid-March and was obviously not better. So, she went to a private doctor (we paid) and he told her it was, in fact, broken and that she needed another 35 days to recover. The first two weeks of an authorized sick-leave the employer pays the salary, after that the Brazilian government pays (we are required by law to pay a tax every month on her behalf so that she can use this benefit if needs be). So, we stopped paying and supposedly the Brazilian equivalent of Uncle Sam (Tio Samuel?) picked up the slack.

We had Vanessa send her mom, Jane, to help me out on the days I needed it and were paying her each day. Her mom is a nice lady who normally takes care of my maid's three kids when she is here working. She actually cleans a lot better than my maid so I was ok with the arrangement.
Tuesday I left her with Pedro so I could go help in the Margarita's, Julio's and Juan Pedro's classes at school and go to their parent-teacher conferences (assuaging my guilt here: I was NOT getting a pedicure or out to lunch with friends!). When I got home Pedro was very fussy, so I grabbed him up and took him to my room to nurse him. He just kept looking at me with this so-sad look and grabbing his arm. I tried to move it and he yelped. So I go back downstairs and ask Jane what the heck happened to his arm.

She was shocked.

In very rapid Portuguese she said something like, "What? Nothing! He's been perfectly fine all day! Happy! Maybe he slept on it funny!"

Hmmmmmmm. Maybe.

I'm not the kind of mom who freaks out easily. So I gave it some time. He wouldn't use his arm and when he would walk and fall on it he would cry. I decided to wait until the morning to call the doctor. We put him to bed for the night; I was still fuming that something had happened and Jane wasn't talking. Then Guapo says, casually, "Maybe she's not lying. Maybe he has like bone cancer or something."

Thank you Guapo. So helpful. I spent the whole night mulling that pleasent thought over in my head. So by the next morning, when he still wasn't using his arm, I started freaking out. Unfortunately, I had fix brunch for 15 people because April is my turn to host the bookclub meetings here at my house and it just happened to be that day. Luckily I had Guapo's mom here to help me get everything done and take care of Pedro. I'm sure I was a great hostess since I was emanating something like, "did you eat? did you pick your books? Good-now GET OUT!!!"

Finally we got to the hospital and got the x-ray done.

It showed nothing. No tumors, no breaks, no nothing.

What the doctor thinks happened was that the maid pulled on his arm and it dislocated his elbow but that it went back in by itself, or why we were moving it around (it's called "nursemaid's elbow" and I guess it's fairly common in kids under 4 yrs of age). They casted it just so he wouldn't irritated it or fall on it the next few days.

I took him home and Jane was still at the house. When she saw him she was all surprised again and like, "oh, poor baby, what happened?" And I was like, "YOU TELL ME WHAT HAPPENED LADY!!!" (ok, so it probably wasn't that forceful since I'm not good at confrontation, but it was more forceful than my normal mild-mannered self). After some back and forth she said, "Well, maybe I was walking him and holding on to one of his hands and maybe he twisted and fell. But (still maintaining that she was never aware of any problem), he never cried."

No "sorry I broke your kid and made you spend $250 going to the hospital" Grrrrrr.

So, the lady can't be left with the baby. Not because something happened while she was with him, I understand that things happen with little kids, but because I don't trust her to tell me the truth. :(

Then she shows up to day (just to clean) and hands me a catalog of bedding products (I'm talking complete crap here-200 thread count twin bed sets that cost, I'm not kidding, $400 USD) and says that Vanessa never signed up for her benefits so she has no money and would I mind buying some bedding and showing the book to all my friends so they too will buy stuff?


Dreaming of a maid free life...

Monday, April 14, 2008

Why I've Been a Lame Blogger As of Late

1. Dengue. Guapo is ok and on the mend. Thanks for keeping us in your prayers.

He was in bad shape for a few days and much to his chagrin spent a day and a night in the hospital (he wanted to be able to say he had never spent the night in a hospital. Is that so like a man or what?). He is doing much better but is still tired.

When you have a husband as great and helpful as mine, the removal as him as a team player really hurts. During the first week of the dreaded dengue I was falling in to bed every night exhausted.

2. Juan Carlos's birthday. His much anticipated Star Wars party was canceled due to the dengue outbreak which was not an easy thing for a 5 year old to accept. But, we rescheduled for a week later. His birthday this year was celebrated on 3 separate days: his actual birthday which he was home sick from school for, the next day when I took cup cakes to his class, and then the day of his party.

10 little boys ages 3-5 + light sabers made from pool noodles + 2 1/2 hours = INSANITY

(When I went to Houston I had bought 6 "real" light sabers for the party, thank goodness I had to invite more kids in order to be "politically correct" and used instead the noodles-those kids would have killed each other!)

3. Guests: Guapo's folks came into town last Tuesday. They are always fun to have around and have been so helpful with the kids and giving me a break.

...but, touring, indulging in delicious Brazilian cuisine and getting pedicures leaves little time for blogging.

4. This book about Marie Antoinette:

A very good read if you are into queens, royalty, guillotines, etc.

I promise to blog regularly starting...NOW!

Saturday, April 05, 2008


In the spirit of fully experiencing the country we are living in, instead of just being the ugly-Americans that always talk too loud and socially keep to themselves, Guapo has joined the 50,000 Cariocas that are currently suffering from dengue fever.

Thank goodness, we're pretty certain that he's out of danger, but, I'm a little busy taking care of him, dousing the kids with Off, swatting at imaginary mosquitos, and humbly praying that his platelet count doesn't go any lower and that no one else in our family gets this awful disease.

I'll be back when everything's under control. :)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

April 1st: Success and Failure

April 1st is one of those holidays that just sneaks up on me-like Halloween. I never have a cool Halloween costume because I always wait until the last minute. Same with April 1st- I never have any cool tricks because I don't have any plans.

When you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Not this year.

This year I got Guapo.

Ok, this may gross you out but, unbeknownst to Guapo, I still have my home pregnancy test from when I found out I was pregnant with Pedro (...and the one from Juan Carlos but that one looked a little more worn). I know it's gross, but I just can't make myself throw them away-it's the first proof I have of their existence. I must be getting softer in my old age because I didn't keep the ones from Margarita or Julio. I hope they don't need therapy one day because I kept the other kids' tests and I didn't keep their tests.

where was I?

right, April Fool's Day.

So I waited all day for Guapo to come home from work. That's not easy for me. I am not a patient person, especially when I have a present for someone or a trick to play on them. I toyed with the idea of taking a picture of it and emailing it, but I could do that without an actual test in hand and the test's very existence was going to be the convincing factor. At one point during the day I decided I was going to send the little item with Sergio the Driver to Guapo's office; ultimately, I decided against it since I really wanted to see his face.

So, he finally came in and I was kind of quite and then I told him I had some disturbing news (not that a baby is disturbing news mind you, but a 5th baby when my 4th just turned a year, and we live in a small apartment in the middle of a big city in the middle of a foreign country, etc, etc. would be slightly disturbing at this point).

He pointed to the calendar and said, "I know what today is-this isn't going to work" and I said, "I know. I was going to wait until tomorrow so you'd believe me, but I couldn't NOT tell you. But, I guess, if you want, I'll wait until tomorrow"


(I start up the stairs)

"No no no, tell me now."

"no, it's ok, tomorrow will be better."

"did you crash your car?Is it something that is going to cost us a lot of money?"

(me, acting offended) "no, I did NOT crash the car, but yes, it is going to cost us A LOT of money"

"What is it?"

I lead him into the bathroom and start digging through the drawer (where the heck did I stash it again???). "Well, it's just that when I went to the pharmacy today to get Julio's medicine (poor Julio has strep AGAIN), I just picked up a test because I have been sooooo tired lately"

His face goes white. "What? You're kidding me."

I finally locate and whip out the ole positive test (no, that's not me in the picture). I'm about to start laughing really, really hard, so I bury my face in my hands and turn it into a kind of frantic, nervous cry/laugh*.

At which point he puts his arm around me and tells me it will be just fine and not to worry.

At which point I abort the mission. I couldn't take it-he was being so sweet, just exactly how I would need him to act if I was actually in that situation. I just couldn't keep it going.

So, I finally come up with a good joke and I can't even let it play out for 45 seconds.

Note to self for April 1, 2009: less emotional joke

Back to the drawing board

*Guapo did tell me I totally had him and that the fake crying was some of the best acting he has ever seen from me (I am a horrible liar; not that I lie a lot, but when I try, it's always painfully obvious).