Monday, June 30, 2008

One More Sleep!

Guapo gets here in the morning! Yeah!

We are picking him up at the airport and are heading directly for Water World, a huge water park in Denver. I have always wanted to take the kids, but have never been able too because we have always had one too small to handle the long day in the sun. But now that Vanessa's here, we can do it. Vanessa, Pedro, and my mom will spend the day shopping for bargains (Vanessa's husband is sending her a little more money as she now has NO money left! My mom deserves a medal for all the shopping she's done with Vanessa.).

Poor Guapo will probably be shot after traveling for 18 hours, but he's willing, so we're going for it!

It has been a great few days watching my kids make friends with the neighborhood kids and play outside until I absolutely insist that they come in. They just don't get that in our nomadic-city-living lifestyle. To watch them doing the same things I did when I was their age in the same cul-de-sac has brought tears to my eyes more than once. I am so thankful that my parents have kept their house even though they could have downsized long ago-it has been a stable point in the lives of my kids the last 7 years-really, the only household that hasn't changed since we left the States. :)

Friday, June 27, 2008

8 Shots and a Pap Smear Later...

...and I am exhausted!!!

One of the benefits of Guapo's having an overseas position is that he gets 30 days of vacation. When we were deciding if this was the course we wanted to take, 30 days sounded like a loooong time. We pictured 30 days on some Caribbean beach, relaxing under a palm tree, drinking a limonada, while the kids splashed in the waves and made sand castles.

Not quite.

Most of the years we have come home to the States for the entire 30 days, because we want to but also because we feel guilty for living so far from our families.

Ok, so that's ok, 30 relaxing days in the States, right?

Welllll, not really, because Guapo and I both have families that we want to spend time with and they don't live on the same street. Or town, or state, or even same country at times. There were those 3 years Guapo's parents were living in Gautemala, so throw in a couple of side-trips to Gaut. We have tried hard to divide the 30 days as fairly as possible between the two families. This could mean visiting anywhere from 2 to 4 states and 1 to 2 countries during any one trip. As we have added kids along the way, the trips within the 30 day relaxing vacation have become harder and harder.

Then there's the shopping.

It is my job to buy for our family all the things that we will need throughout the next year. Don't get me wrong, I love shopping as much as the next guy, but day in and day out it gets to be a little bit much. It's a frantic kind of shopping, not the fun, relaxed shopping you may be imagining. Picture running through Target clearing the shelves into your cart, then taking all of the crap home, removing any and all packaging so as to take up less room in your suitcase, then packing and re-packing 12 large suitcases or duffle bags in just the right configuration so as not to go over the 70 pound allotment.

Several days into the shopping frenzy, I start to forget what I have bought and what I still need. Near the end of the trip, I'll wake up nightly in a sweat, suddenly remembering I have somehow forgotten to buy something that I simply cannot live without, thus necessitating yet another trip to Target. I have, on several occasions, gotten a rash that was due to spending so much money in so little time. By the end, I halfway expect my credit card to burst in to flames as I swipe it through the little machine.

I know, there are much worse problems in life to have, but it does cut into the tranquility said "vacation".

Then there's taking care of our house in the mountains that we foolishly rented to college boys last year. I cringe when I think about what poor Moses the Moose witnessed over the last 9 months. Or maybe he was the instigator, I'm not sure. When we found him he was wearing mardi gras beads and a pair of tightie whitites (ewwwww.)

It started with 3 guys and were pretty sure there were a lot more than that living there.

It appears that someone was even living in the garage. As you can see from the photo above, they had moved out a bed, bedding, a sofa, and several lamps to the garage. It was 39 degrees two nights ago when I was up there, I don't know how anyone slept out there, but apparently they did.

They left us with what Betsy, the nice professional cleaning lady who charged us almost $700.00 (out of their security deposit, of course), called "quite possibly the filthiest house I have ever stepped foot into". In addition to the filth and muck of who knows how many people living there for 9 months, they also left us some lovely reading material and some really choice posters.


I digress.

Next there are the appointments.

Even though we have found good doctors in most of the places we have lived, I like to maintain a relationship with a doctor and dentist in the States.

6 people X ~2 appointments = 12 visits

Again, eroding the serenity of the trip.

And to make a short story long, that was how I spent my day today, the kids and I all had appointments with the doctor. Poor Juan Carlos (5 yrs) had to get 4 shots, Pedro (15 months) had to get 3, and Julio (7 yrs) had to get one. It used to not bother me so much, I knew it was for their own good. I was a lot tougher as a younger mom. Today I cried. :(

And on top of all the shots, I had to get the dreaded woman check-up. You'd think after 4 kids I wouldn't loathe it so, but I do.

The very good news is that no one needs another vaccination until Pedro goes to kindergarten!!! And since he's still nursing (sorry if that grosses you out, but wouldn't you want to be able to nurse on a 12 hour flight???), that doesn't seem even in the realm of possibility.

Well, I better get to bed. I've got to hit the stores first thing in the morning to buy some new furniture for our house. :)

(Sorry to vent. We are having a blast, and I know what a blessed life I lead, I just sometimes long for the serenity of that Caribbean beach!)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Too Much to Blog, to Little Time to Blog it

Well, we are a week and a half into our summer vacation. I have tons to blog about but not a lot of free time- we are busy all day long having fun and eating all the foods we have missed the last year.

So, here's a little recap.

Ode to Colorado

Every time I step foot in Colorado I wonder why we live anywhere else. I love everything about the state of my youth: the seasons, the mountains, the sunsets, how it smells, the parks, our house, everything. I'm glad we get an entire month here this summer.

And of course, it's always wonderful to go home to my parents and feel like a kid again. Here's my dad with Juan Carlos at the park:

My parents borrowed a trampoline from their neighbors and the kids have been jumping hours each day which has made bedtime a lot easier.

Why my mom is a bad woman

She made me do this (don't worry Guapo, they were really, really cheap. I promise):

and I think she may be expecting (or she was going to play basketball with Julio):


She is thoroughly enjoying the States. Especially the shopping. Of the $1,200 we are paying her for the 4 weeks she's here, she only has $50.00 left (she did leave half of it at home with her family before we even left, but still). It could be a long 2 1/2 weeks for her!

My parents have lots of squirrels around their house-every time she sees one she screams so loud that it freaks me out and jumps up to find her camera she must have 300 pictures of squirrels doing various squirrel activities.

The squirrels are only trumped by the raccoons-they come up on my parents deck every night to steal the squirrel's peanuts. A few nights ago she stayed up until 2:00 am waiting for the masked beasts.

I guess the excitement over the wildlife shouldn't surprise me, I go crazy over the monkeys in Brazil and the Brazilians don't seem all that impressed by them. But squirrels?

Sunday she went to a Rockies game with my dad; they sat 5 rows behind home plate. She forgot her camera. 300 pictures of squirrels and none of America's Favorite Pastime. My dad was buying people drinks to take pictures of her and then email them. As far as I know, no pictures have been received yet.

Oh, I almost forgot the funniest thing. H1gh School Musical 2. Everyday. Sometimes twice a day. She has got a serious crush on Troy. I bought her this Troy jewelry set as a joke and she's been wearing it ever since. I have to admit, it is helping her English a lot-she is doing great communicating. I kind of feel bad for her husband though...


I have been so excited to bring Pedro to the States so he could try all of the cool new baby/toddler foods available.

The kid won't eat anything that he didn't eat in Brazil. He refuses. Shakes his little head and purses his lips together. I am so disappointed.

Same goes for people. He hasn't warmed up to anyone and wants me to hold him

Here he is earning his keep:

Luxury Vacation

I was so worried about not enjoying the trip having an extra person always around, and now I am worried I have ruined all future vacations. I kind of feel like a movie star with my entourage-if I am carrying Pedro, Vanessa takes my bag or vice versa. I can take time with each kid and when Pedro is sleeping, I can leave and do something fun with the big kids. She helps pick up after everyone which is so helpful. I can go out for a run and not feel like I am impositioning anyone.

This is the way to travel!!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Home Sweet Home

I love coming back to the States. It's always SO nice here. Clean, cheap, fun.

We've covered a lot of ground in three days in Houston. Highlights include:

  1. poptarts

  2. frosted mini-wheats

  3. Life

  4. egg mcmuffins

  5. the Houston aquarium

  6. chucky cheese

  7. real milk

  8. real ice cream

  9. target

  10. walmart

  11. old navy

  12. swimming 3 or 4 times

  13. spending too much money

I love needing something and just being able to go to the store to get it. No, hmmmmm, do I have a friend who's going to the States anytime soon? When is Guapo going? I guess I'll just add it to my list and get it 3 months from now. Nope, I just get in my car, drive to the store, and I know they'll have it. (and 14 other products I don't know how I live without).

(picture me doing cartwheels)

My maid is doing fine, and I am doing fine with her here. Once I made it past security in the Brazilian airport I was wondering how I ever thought I was going to do it without another adult. Pedro alone requires about 1.5 adults. He only slept 5 of the 12 hours on the flight, despite the fact that I doped him with dramamine (I'm sorry if you think that's child abuse. I don't have a problem with it.). It wasn't exactly fun, but it's over now and I don't have to do it again for 6 1/2 weeks.

So far (it's only been 3 days and we've still got 3 1/2 weeks to go) it's nice to have her here too-it's like bringing the best of the 3rd world home to the 1st world. Everyone has a maid in Brazil, so I don't think I appreciate it as much there, but now that she's here, in a place where I don't normally have help, I am enjoying the benefits. It's like I have two of me and I get to choose the things I prefer to do and give her the other jobs. I have taken a couple of naps, and even gone shopping once by myself.

She is just a tad shutter happy. She has pictures of EVERY.THING. The plane, the wing of the plane, the bags being loaded onto the plane, the airplane food, the parking lot of the Houston airport, various shots on the shuttle bus to the rental car office, the rental car, etc., etc..

She told me today she is saving her McDonalds receipt so she can show her kids. Target was, as you can imagine, overwhelming. She had her cart filled in no time and I had to explain the new airline baggage rules to her and that we have Target in Colorado that has the exact same things.

The kids are like, "Vanessa, look, a tree!" "..a bird!", "...look at this elevator, have you ever seen an elevator like this?" which is pretty cute.

Tomorrow we head for Colorado!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The List

First off, let me apologize for being a bad blog friend. Something is wacky with Bloglines, it has stopped tracking several of my favorite blogs. If you haven't seen me around your blog for a while, that's why.

Ok. On to "The List". Julio (7 years old) has been making very long, very detailed lists that include super cute drawings, about what he wants to do during our trip the States. Unfortunately, his medium of choice always seems to be pencil, so I'm not going scan it, but I am going to type the list out, just as he has it (read: I don't have to spell check because you'll never know if it was a typo, or that's how he spelled it).

We will be making three stops on our trip: Texas, Colorado, and Utah. His list is therefore divided into three parts:


  • play with Mariana and Daved (my friends' grandkids)
  • Play with Lady (my friends' dog)
  • go swimming
  • sleepovers
  • shop
  • backyard
  • hide and seek
  • go shoping with Nathan (Nathan in my friends' 17 year old son, I'm sure he'll be thrilled)
  • make a worolpool (he means whirlpool; the kids get into the jacuzzi and run around the edge in a circle and get going really fast)

Coloradow (not a typo folks)

  • alpine slide
  • bickes (bikes)
  • hicking (hiking)
  • Hot-tub
  • Sand-box
  • Say hello to Daian (Diane is my mom's neighbor)
  • eat lunch at Chuky cheese
  • eat sireeal for breckfast (cereal)
  • play outside
  • go to the park
  • play bachy (bocci-you know, lawn bowling)
  • go to the rexseter (rec center)
  • shoping for toys


  • play with the cosons (cousins)
  • coson camp (cousin camp-hosted by my very brave MIL each summer)
  • swim in stream
  • catch snakes (not while I'm there I hope!)
  • cousin sleep together
  • cool toy store
  • water park
  • tag in yard
  • fireworks
  • build a bear work shop
  • water fountins (fountains-the ones at Gateway)
  • Temple square

So, there's our list for the summer! I would make a few additions, like eating some decent ice cream, drinking LOTS of milk, and drinking directly from the faucet after I brush my teeth.

T minus 26 hours and I'm not all the way packed. Agggggggh!!!

Maid update: Vanessa is seriously scared to get on the plane. It didn't help her last week to watch the news coverage about that plane in Sudan that caught on fire after it had crash landed.

She called today to ask me if the seats on a plane are very close together, because she doesn't want to be alone. She'll soon see how annoyingly close they are!

I am feeling relieved that she will be there to help me on the flight, but also like I will be traveling with 5 kids instead of 4!

Signing out until Houston.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Calm Before the Storm

Just a quick post to remember these last few moments of peace. The kids are at school (their last day), Pedro is asleep, Vanessa our maid is not here (she's spending the next few days with her kids before the big trip on Sunday). This is quite possibly the last time I will be alone for the next 7 1/2 weeks.

Don't get me wrong. I love summer and having fun with my kids, but, if I am perfectly honest, it scares me just a little bit.

The nonstopness of trying to keep 4 kids happy and somewhat entertained.

Oh if only Pedro would realize how wonderful it feels to sleep in during the summer.

Oh well, a mom can dream, right?

Our morning was not quite as I would have liked. I imagined peacefully waking my kids up, having them be all excited that it was their LAST DAY OF SCHOOL, us sharing a leisurely breakfast. Instead, I had put off putting all the cookies on trays for class parties and wrapping teacher presents so it was more like, "Get yourself breakfast I'm busy!!!". :( Luckily, they were so excited they didn't seem to mind making their own toast.

The morning improved drastically because Ballerina girl invited me over for breakfast at her house (yummy waffles- I am totally impressed that she had her act together enough on the last day of school to make homemade waffles!) and a pre-trip manicure and pedicure. (Another benefit of living in Latin countries-you can always find someone that will come to your house to do your nails).

T minus 2 hours. I've got to catch a little catnap before summer begins!

Monday, June 09, 2008


We leave on Sunday night for our big summer trip. My kids have been counting down the days for, ohhhhhh, just the last 3 months now. They have not traveled back to the States since we arrived last July. They love everything about going home, the airplane, the food, the relatives, the shopping, even going to the doctor and dentist there. We jam everything fun that we would normally spread over the course of a year into a few short weeks. I'm afraid when we eventually move back they will be highly disappointed to see that our "normal life" is not the same as our "vacation life".

Julio (7 years old) is probably the most excited about our maid going. He wants to be the one to show her everything. His first job is to teach her all about flying as she's never before flown. A couple of months ago when we started talking about the possibility of taking her with us he drew this picture for her:

I'm not sure how well you can read it, but it is a list of "airplane activities". She taped it to her door and I crack up everytime I walk by it. It includes:

  • Food

  • Nice sleep

  • Movies

  • Games

  • Music

(and my personal favorite)
  • Calm

Oh how I hope my kids have "nice sleep" and "calm" on the 12 hour flight on Sunday!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Laura Ingells Comes for a Visit

Ok, you have to be honest here. I am going to tell you something about my childhood and you have to tell me if you ever had the same thought. When I told Guapo about this a while back, he looked at me like I had two heads.

I loved watching Little House on the Prar1e when I was in elementary school (ok, and Jr. High too). Everyday, I would come home from school, fix myself a single-serving bowl of rice-krispy treats, and make myself cozy on my parent's bed to tune into the adventures of Laura.

Here's the "weird" part (or at least the part Guapo thinks is weird): I used to daydream about having Laura come to the future (my present) and stay with me. I was going to be the one to personally introduce her to all the cool stuff the 20th century had to offer. Cars, my comparatively huge house, my room I didn't have to share with anyone, refridgerators, chocolate chip cookies, my hamster, my toys. Everything! It only seemed fair, I tuned in to her life everyday, why shouldn't I share my life with her?

So, am I weird?

And now you are asking , "Why, exactly, are you bringing this up?"

Vanessa, our maid, had an interview to get a Visa to come to the States with us today and she "passed".

I will be traveling with my "maid" for 4 weeks this summer. And, introducing someone to the USA who would probably otherwise never have the opportunity in her life to go there makes me feel like I'm going to be showing Laura around my life. Can you imagine going to Target if you'd never seen anything like it? Her head is going to be spinning.

I have mixed feelings about taking her. Will she get homesick? Will I go crazy? I like my privacy. I love to be alone. I realize that I will be the freak mom with a "nanny" to whom I am speaking Portuguese (as far as they know!).

However, traveling with 4 kids internationally by myself sounds a lot like torture. I will be in the States for a total of 7 weeks, but Guapo can't come until after the 3rd week. So, she will travel with me for the dreaded 12 hour flight, help out those first few weeks when Guapo's not there, and then stay for a week after he gets there so we can do all the fun stuff we always want to do but never can because one of our kids is always too young.

Every summer since we started this lifestyle, I have contemplated taking a maid with us, but I have never done it because mostly my maids have annoyed the crap out of me. But, Vanessa is fairly non-annoying, so it might work.

I'm praying that it works and I'm not kicking myself a week into it.

You can be sure I'll be blogging all about it...

Monday, June 02, 2008

192 Hour Flu

Alternate Title: Flu Shots. Now I get it.

Well, last week was pretty much horrible. I have finally joined the ranks of the living again, although I am still periodically hacking up a lung.

I've never gotten a flu shot before or really even contemplated getting one. That's because I've never really gotten the flu before. I think I'll be the flu shot's biggest fan from here on out. Maybe I'll get a t-shirt that says, "Flu Shot- I *heart* U" or something.

But, the whole experience highlighted something I have really enjoyed about living overseas: the medical care. When we left the States 7 years ago, that was one of the things that I was most worried about, especially since we had two small kids who were prone to getting lots of ear infections. We have had excellent doctors in all the places we have lived (with the exception of Small Town where the medicine was horrible!). All the doctors we have had spoke English and most of them had studied or trained in the States. Some kept up their credentials in the States so they could practice there.

In the three countries where we have lived, doctors tend to be much more user-friendly than they are in the States. Most go by Dr. followed by their first name, instead of their last name. I have not had a doctor who hasn't given me their cell phone number on our first visit and told me that I am welcome to call day or night. I am not the type to abuse such an offer, but with 4 kids, I have taken advantage of it on various occasions.

Here in Brazil, I haven't had a need for a doctor, so last week when I realized I wasn't getting better I called the kids' pediatrician (on her cell, of course) to see if she just wanted to prescribe me something. She didn't feel comfortable doing that, but told me she'd call me back in 10 minutes. She called me back and had lined up an appointment with an urgent care doctor who works in one of the best hospitals here in town. When I got to the hospital I called the doctor (on his cell) and he told me just to wait in the emergency area, but not to register with anyone, that he would come out and find me.

So, he found me and checked me out. He told me it was most likely just the flu and so that I just had to wait for it to pass. :(. I am not a patient patient. I can handle being sick for about 36 hours and then I'm done with it. But, alas, it wasn't meant to be this time.

So, I asked him where I should pay and he said, "No charge, you had to come here and wait for me (I waited about 20 minutes). Just call me if your condition worsens."

Isn't that nice? That just wouldn't happen in the States. And while it was unusual that he didn't charge me, his kindness and availability are very common among Latin American doctors. Over the years I have had doctors make house calls when I couldn't make it to the office, or call me just to check on whoever was sick (the kids' pediatrician checked in on me a couple of times last week). I called our pediatrician in Venezuela for a whole year after we had moved to Small Town, Mexico to ask her for medical advice. The OB's that delivered Juan Carlos (in Venezuela) and Pedro (in Mexico), both arrived at the hospital before I did and stayed by my side throughout my labor and delivery.

Of course, if I were in a life or death situation, I would rather be in the States because of the technology, but, as far as personalized care goes, the US definitely doesn't have the corner on the market. That is something that I will really miss when we eventually move back.

Thanks so much for all of your well wishes!