Saturday, September 27, 2008

Further Proof that Brazilians are More Fun than Americans

So we had a Young Single Adult (read: a bunch of sober Mormons) activity here last night. The activity was karaoke on Guapo's "MagicSing" karaoke microphone. We took it to the States with us this summer and it saw some limited, reluctant use (except by my mom, who would fit in quite well with the Brazilians), but not a lot.

Brazilians + MagicSing = Good times.

Sober Brazilians are WAY MORE fun than Sober Americans. Not to mention that even the ones who don't speak hardly any English know lots of American songs. They liked ones well known songs that you would expect like all the Beatles songs, YMCA, La Bamba, etc. but then every once in a while they would all sing one together perfectly in one collective loud voice-like some song by Smokey Robinson that I'm pretty sure I've never heard before in my life. ???

Anyway here's just a little clip from the VERY FIRST guy who went. Nobody was even warmed up at this point:

By the end of the night there were back-up singers, dancers, back-up dancers, and people waving their open cell phones in the air like cigarette lighters. All in our little family room.

The whole thing was pretty amusing!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Home Again, Home Again

Can anyone tell me why it is so hard to start blogging after a trip?

We had a successful trip to California. We made it back on Sunday and all of the kids were alive, in one piece, fed, clothed, and relatively happy so I guess it went alright. My only complaint was that, it appears that, Pedro played exclusively with crayons and markers while we were gone. His signature work can now be found EVERYWHERE in the house. Grrrrrr.

Anyway, here are some trip highlights.

The happy bride and groom:

Me and my awesome sisters-in-law:

Me at Disneyland:

Guapo and I trying not to get sick on a roller coaster at California Adventure (my strategy was to keep my eyes closed and breath through my nose; attractive, eh?) The girl in front of me seems to be having so much more fun than me...:

The Indiana Jones ride, hosted by Guapo's brother, who may love Disneyland more than life itself:

And finally, a real bird eating a gummy worm. Is this as funny (and slightly sad) to anyone else as it is to me?

Monday, September 15, 2008

No Cold Sores...I'm Totally Relaxed...No Cold Sores

Tomorrow Guapo and I are headed to California. Guapo's brother is getting married on Friday and we are going. Sans children. He is marrying a super cool, smart, beautiful girl who actually blogs-so now I have someone in my family to share my blogging hopes and dreams with. If you get a chance, you can wish her well here.

Anyway, it is always crazy to leave the kids. We haven't both left for more than a night since our 10th anniversary a couple of years ago; I was in the depths of pregnancy despair-so I'm thinking this will be a whole lot more fun. The childcare team will include 6 adults-Vanessa our maid (as long as she doesn't show up with a note tomorrow), Vanessa's cousin (a preemptive strike on my part so no notes are needed during the 5 day trip), Sergio the driver, and three nice girls from chuch who are going to take turns spending the night here to help out with the bedtime and morning routines. It feels good to know it takes an entire staff to replace me!

We are going to Disneyland on Wednesday. What kind of parents are we to go without our kids who have never been???

Right about now, I am just trying not to freak out about leaving because if I have too much stress I will get a cold sore, and that wouldn't be too nice for the wedding photos.

...deep cleansing breath...

Amid all of maid issues, (that for the time being, seem to be better), and all of the preparation, there hasn't been a lot of time for blogging. So, here are a few things going on that I don't want to forget.

Julio (almost 8 years) update

He lost his first big front tooth last week. (the glasses are a poor Photoshop attempt to disguise Julio, we don't actually make him wear Harry Potter glasses).

He got a horrific hair cut two weeks ago. Poor kid knew it. He wore a hood to school the first few days. Think Roman-gladiator-helmet-haircut. After he shed the hood he came home and told me the kids were making fun of him. Sadly, I can't really say that I blame them...

Oh well, it will grow, right?

Juan Carlos (5 years) Update

Juan Carlos is fine. Ever my baby. He is learning to read and write which I can't believe. I am finding homemade books and lists of words around the house. So cute.

He loves his swimming class too, now that his teacher knows that he is never, ever going to put on his speedo.

Margarita (10 years) Update

She is currently the smarty-pants of her 5th grade class. Not to brag, but she brings home A+ work all.the.time. We are pretty proud of her hard work.

Stickers are all the rage amongst the 5th grade girls right now. She can't wait for me to get back with a new, cool, American stickers.

She is such a helper with Pedro-I am grateful for her everyday!

Pedro (18 months): The Semi-Functional-Human-Magic-Eight-Ball

Pedro has learned how to say, "Yeah". He says "yeah" to everything. Well, almost. If you ask him if he wants to go to bed he says, "no". But, to everything else he answers, "Yeah". So, the new thing is for the older kids to continually bombard him with senseless questions and hear him answer "yeah".

"Am I your best friend?" Yeah

"Are we going to the zoo on Saturday?" Yeah

"Are you going to marry La La* when you grow up?" Yeah

"Were you kidding before when you said Julio was your best friend?" Yeah

"Do you want to eat a dog?" Yeah

You get the idea. It can go on for hours. (I'm keeping it clean here, folks, for your benefit, lots of the questions have to do with poop.)

*He is into the telletubbies right now. I'm not for sticking my kids in front of the TV, but I will admit it's nice when I need 5 minutes without him destroying something. Vanessa, for religious reasons, does not approve of the Tubbies. Twice now she has swapped out the tubbies video for a more appropriate Veggie Tales video. Which he does not care for. We'll see who wins that battle over the next 5 days.

He is also trying to jump, but he's in that super cute phase where the rest of his body jumps, but his feet don't actually leave the ground; he just kind of lurches forward. I love it.

Oh, and puddles. It's been raining a lot here and he's discovered puddles. They can be very distracting when we are trying to walk. :)

A Moment of Sadness

When I put Pedro down for his nap tomorrow it will be the last time I nurse him. I have been slowly weaning him since we got back from our summer vacation and this trip is the perfect opportunity to finish the job. He's over 18 months now-I've never nursed a baby this long. It makes me really sad to quit, but if I don't do it now I'm afraid I'll end up like my very-Italian-grandma who nursed my Uncle Lee until he was 5. Yes, 5. Sure it was during the Great Depression, but does that make it right? I must not become that woman!

This very well may be the end of my nursing and little baby days.

Ok, I'm crying now.

...deep cleansing breath...deep cleansing breath...deep cleansing breath...

I love you kids!!! Be good!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Best of Brazil-Hanging Orchids

Here's a cool thing about the place we live. Our street is lined by huge, beautiful, tall trees. People hang these little half-pots of orchids on to these trees and they thrive. This amazes me because the orchids I have tried to raise here seem to die the second we cross the threshold of our apartment.

There are orchids everywhere which makes taking a stroll with Pedro just deligthful.

And, speaking of orchids and people like me who can't grow them, they actually have rent-an-orchid businesses here; you pay a monthly fee and pick the orchids you like and an orchid specialist will come and take care of them for you and when you get tired of those, you can switch them out for new ones-pretty cool huh?

Saturday, September 06, 2008

...To Be Fair

So we sat down with the maid today and had a little chat. Guapo participated which always helps a lot as he is a whole lot scarier to her than I am. It went well, better than I thought it would. I tend to avoid confrontation like the plague, so it was good to get some stuff, nicely, off my chest.

She seems like she understood what we were saying and like she wasn't trying to take advantage. According to her, her first three pregnancies were symptomless (something I personally can't relate to) and she wasn't working at the time, so this time has been harder for her.

The bottom line is that I have to hope for the best and make it work because the alternative is super expensive. And, I rather err on the side of being too nice than being a jerk.

So, basically I am writing this because I feel bad for my post yesterday. I made her sound like an awful person and she's really sweet in a lot of ways-most important being that she's great with my kids. I feel a lot better now and feel hopeful that she will not take us to the cleaners.

Time will tell. (May I not be a sucker twice!)

And I learned it is better to talk about than assume things and let them fester and ruin your week. I'm a really good festerer.

(Note to self: fester less, talk more!) Tchua!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Maid Tenure

I have been avoiding my blog. I have been in the worst mood ever and I just didn't want to involve all 5 of you that read my blog.

But, just as I must remember how hard a toddler is, at some point in the future, when I am living in the States sans domestic help, I need to remember what a pain in the rear it was sometimes to have the so-called "help".

So, I will share with you what has been driving me NUTS the last week (just ask poor Ballerina Girl, I'm sure she's sick of hearing about my maid troubles). And if you are sick of my maid tales, just come back next week and I'll have moved on (or so I hope).

About 6 or 7 months ago I found a note my maid had written and left out in a place that I would find it. It had the names of her 3 children and then a girl's name and a boy's name, options, if you will, for an unborn 4th child. I freaked out for a moment and then asked her if she was pregnant and she told me, "Nooooooo!" like I was crazy or something. She told me "someday" she wanted another child, but not in the near future.

We should have fired her that day.

Fast forward to our trip to the States and her bulging stomach that I attributed to all of the fast food burgers that always had to include bacon. Then we arrive back in Brazil and lo and behold-she's pregnant.

So, what's the big deal?

The big deal is that Brazil has got some pretty serious laws about pregnant maids. Like you can't fire them. Well, that's a nice law isn't it? I mean, how rude would it be to fire your pregnant maid? Well, if your maid wants to show up 4 hours late every day and sit around and eat bonbons and watch a novela instead of working you can't really do anything about it. Or if she doesn't show up at all- you can't fire her. And she knows it.

Then, they get a 4 month paid maternity leave, 5 months if they are nursing, during which time you of course, can't fire them, even if you've hired someone else that you like better. You can't fire them, in fact, until 2 months after their maternity leave.

I'm not being completely honest. You can fire a pregnant maid. But, if you do, you must pay them their salary for the remainder of their pregnancy and their 4-or-5 month maternity leave (I'm guessing most decide to nurse, what do you think?). And with the dollar where it's at, and the Real where it's at we are not talking about pocket change here.

If you don't completely comply with this law you will most likely be sued by your maid who will most likely win.

So back to my maid. As far as she knows, we are leaving the end of July 2009. Is it just a huge coincidence that her due date is 4 1/2 months before then? I hope it is, but I am really starting to wonder. Basically she will be able to goof around the next 7 months, then take off 5 months months, and then collect unemployment for the following 6 months if we do happen to leave the country. Doesn't sound so bad, does it?

In the past 3 weeks since my normally responsible maid told me she's pregnant she's showed up late 4 times, taken 4 days off for "appointments", three days for doctor recommended "rest", and when she has been here she mopes around like I am the wicked witch of the west for making her work at all.

Monday she came to work totally downtrodden and sick. She had a headache and was nauseated and *gasp* she almost threw up the day before! After watching her production for about an hour I told her she could go home. She decided that with symptoms like hers, she needed to go to the hospital. The doctor gave her a note that said she needs 3 days of rest.


So basically anytime she wants a few days off, she just has to head to her doctor and complain a little and she'll get a note. And I have to pay her even though she is not here. And there's nothing I can do about it.

When she called to tell me about her note (at 9:00 that night, leaving me no time to make arrangements for the next day), I said, "so then you'll be here on Saturday, right?"

Pause..., "Well, I guess...if you really need me to come." like I am totally putting her out.


When I'm back in the States complaining about housework, please remind me of this.