Friday, November 28, 2008

I'm Back. (Finally!)

Been a while, eh? Happy Belated Thanksgiving, I hope everyone had a great day.

We had Gaupo's brother, his wife and two of their four kids visit us for 8 days. We had a super time-I was sad to see them leave on Wednesday (it helped though, that we will see them in a few weeks!!!). We've had our parents visit and some of our single siblings, but we've never had any of the kids' cousins come to our house; it was a highlight of the year for my kids. We stayed so busy, I fell into bed every night exhausted!

We went to the beach:

Saw some sites:

Did some hiking (sadly, we did not see any monkeys while they were here :( ):

Ate (a LOT):

Had some funky sleeping arrangements for the 5 big kids:

The grown-ups went to "The City of Samba" one night where they give you a little taste of what Carnaval is like:

here's Guapo's very tall brother with two Carnaval people on stilts:

Margarita and her cousin, who are in the same grade, were inseparable-he even went to school two days with her which I think is pretty cool since he was on vacation. At night after we'd get the "little kids" to bed, they would stay up a little later reading:

(The grown-ups, on the other hand, stayed up watching our favorite episodes of "The Office". Good times, good times)

It was a great week, and we really appreciate the time and effort it took for them come to Brazil to visit us.

In Pedro News, the paint-in-the-hair trick was just the beginning of his "putting-gooey-stuff-in-his-hair" phase. Since then he has also put milky-cereal, yogurt and my personal favorite, vaseline in his hair. Any tips on how to get vaseline out of his hair? It's been 3 days and numerous baths and he is still totally greasy.

He has also started telling me "don't want to" when I try to get him dressed, and screaming "MINE!!!" when his (preceived or otherwise) belongings are touched by anyone. Aggggggh!!! 3 weeks until the dreaded 10 hour flight.

Not good.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Excuse My Absence

...but we have company! Guapo's brother, his wife and two of their 4 children arrived on Tuesday for a week. Our kids are loving having cousins to show around.

More later...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Congratulations Pedro!

Pedro is excelling in his Two-Year-Old-In-Training program. Really. I'm talking A+ work.

He is monitored in three categories: speech, temper-tantrum throwing, and destructive capabilities and he has fared quite well in all three.


Most of his speech at this point has to do with what HE wants which means expectations are being met for our future 2 year old . He has mastered the following phrases:

-No Way! (normally used when asked if he wants to take a bath or go to bed)

-I WANT __________! Most often followed by:

  • juice
  • water
  • "La-La" (he's still hooked on the teletubbies)
  • OUT! (of his highchair, carseat, stroller or bed)
  • eat
  • "tweat" (treat)
  • push (the doorbell or the elevator buttons)
  • "powda" (powder, when I'm changing his diaper)
  • WALK (when we are trying to get somewhere fast and are therefore carrying him)
  • THIS! (when he doesn't know the word for the thing he wants)


Final Grade: A


He is a decent little temper-tantrum thrower. His techniques include but are not limited to:

In-Arms Tantrums:

  • throwing his heavy little head back
  • screaming
  • repeatedly arching his back, buckin' bronco style
  • head-butting

Free- Range Tantrums:

  • throwing himself on the floor
  • rolling
  • hitting his head on whatever surface is available (the harder the better)
  • crying and screaming

Final grade: B (I've seen better at this age; he's lacking in a certain creativeness in this category (we have yet to be bitten). But overall, not to shabby.)

Destructive Capabilities

This is where Pedro really shines. He has true talent in this category that hopefully someday will be used for good instead of evil.

Of course we encourage him to draw on paper:

...but, he feels it really stifles his artistic ability to be limited in such a way; so, we find his artwork throughout the house (and believe me when I say, this is a very small sample of his work):

Sadly, sometimes he doesn't know when to stop:

(yes, that's MY ipod. and the pen was a sharpie. Grrrrrrr. When I discovered it, Julio wisely told me, "Mom, you should keep your ipod in a safer place." Don't you hate it when kids are right?)

He can't take all the credit here, he owes some of it to his older siblings who somehow al-ways manage to leave contraband markers within his reach.

A few days ago he decided to try a new medium out.


In this case, he owes a debt of gratitude to the maid who thought it would be a good idea to leave the paints on the bottom shelve in the toy room. Passive agressive attack? Possibly.

Before I realized the scope of the problem, I, of course grabbed my camera (rookie move):

...before I knew it, he was taking it to the next level:

I delivered him to the maid to clean him up (I figured that was only fair since she had left the paints within reach) while I surveyd the rest of the room. It was not good:

(I was in the room when it happened! 5 ft away! He is a very quick, and practically undetectable to the human senses.)

Look at this face:

No remorse whatsover! (Let this serve this as a warning to those we will be staying with over the holidays-hide the art supplies!!!

Final grade: A+++

Bravo, Pedro, you will make a wonderful 2 year old!

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Post for Margarita's Future Children

Great News!!!

Here's a little note that your mom left for me last night:

(After a long Sunday with the kids, all of whom seemed to have their ears filled with cotton, Guapo and I finally got fed up and sent them all to bed early, with the exception of Pedro who was being a little angel. Margarita was not pleased with our choice of consequence and vowed first vocally, and then in print, that she will never do such a thing. I can't wait! )

Friday, November 07, 2008

Why I Pay Someone to Annoy Me: A Maid Update

(I am hesitant to write about my maid; after my last rant, I felt kind of bad. But, it is a huge part of my life here and I want to be able to come back to my blog and remember what it was really like, so I think it's necessary. But, let me start out by saying that overall things have gone ok since our last big talk. Not great but ok. Luckily she is super sweet with Pedro, and the other kids don't mind hanging out with her on Friday nights, so at least there's that. And being a maid wouldn't be the greatest, especially if you were pregnant so I do appreciate that she still shows up and works.)

A Brief Review

Our maid got pregnant in July. According to Brazilian law, we cannot fire her throughout her pregnancy, her 5 month paid maternity leave, or for the first month she comes back after her leave. If we do want to fire her, legally we have to pay her out for all of this time which would not be cheap. What most Brazilians do in this situation (and what we were advised to do since this situation rarely works out well; the lawyers that work for Guapo's company were seriously laughing when he told them that our maid was pregnant.) is as soon as the pregnancy is made known, to give the maid a wad of cash and have her sign her rights away. When I say "wad of cash" I am talking about somewhere in the neighborhood of $3,000-4,000 USD. So, that's not really an option I'm willing to take at this point.

So, instead I try not to let her drive me crazy. But, I do spend a lot of my time wondering if she:

A) is trying to drive me nuts so that I finally break down and offer her the pay out, or,

B) just doesn't give a rip about doing a good job anymore and knows there's not a lot I can do about it.

And now, on to the grievances

Slightly Annoying

Has she been reading Amelia Bedilia? A few days ago I told her she could go home early because she wasn't feeling well. I just asked that she fold the last load of clothes that was drying in the dryer before she left. So, when I went down to grab something later out of the laundry basket, I was happy to see that the clothes were indeed folded, but that they were still very, very damp. Grrrrrr.

She is determined to plump me up. Remember my post about Brazilian carb loading? We had talked several times before that post about how we, as Americans, do not eat rice, pasta and potatoes all in the same meal, that we normally only eat one starch per meal. She traveled with, and ate with us every day for a month in the States and yet she continued to give us rice and potatoes (or pasta) together. So, I cut her back to two days of cooking because we were wasting a lot of food, and I made her this chart:

(and yes, in case you are wondering if that was the problem, she does speak English)

And I am still getting meals like this for dinner:


She tells me crazy things: Around the anniversary of September 11th she came to me all excited, waving a Brazilian newspaper, "Look at this! This article says that George Bush planned the whole thing!!!" And I was like, "yeah, there's a conspiracy theory for everything, blah, blah, blah" and she was like, "No, this is for real. G-e-o-r-g-e -W-B-u-s-h has 11 letters in it. Get it? 11 letters? September 11th??? " and then she showed me a photo of a 20 dollar bill folded so that the letters spelled "Osama". And she's totally serious...

I mean, I know the guy's not that popular, but seriously? 11 letters?!?

She uses my precious resources: One day, she was making a rice salad (to go along with our mashed potatoes) and the recipe called for a can of tuna fish. Instead of walking to the store (a 5 minute walk) and purchasing tuna, she instead used not one but TWO cans of my canned clams that I bring back with me from the States to make my kids' favorite meal. Canned clams are the only canned product I bring because of the weight limitations.

The remaining clams are now hidden where she will never, ever find them.


Cleaning. My maid was never the best cleaner in the world. But things have gone from fair to poor in the last few months. I even had to hold a special lecture one day entitled, "Every Potty. Every Day." It seems she decided that she would do a "good" cleaning on Fridays. When I asked her how she arrived at Friday, instead of say, a day in the beginning of the week so the house would look nice all week, she told me it was because she had all day Friday (she stays over Friday night so Guapo and I can go out to dinner), whereas the other days she leaves "early". She works Tuesday-Thursday from 7 am until 4 pm.

I guess I can see her point- 9 hours is really not enough time to clean a house. ???

So, now, I hate to be gross here, but I have to make my point.

Here is a photo of one of our toilets (they are all basically the same); please take special note of the water line:

Very, very low and definitely NOT directly below where a child would comfortably sit. Now, I won't show you a video of the flushing action, but imagine, if you will, a flush whose force isn't all that strong.

You know my kids aren't the best flushers in the world. So, do you see where I'm going with this???

The toilets are often "dirty" and I was finding myself cleaning them at nights because I was so grossed out. And then I realized that I pay her decent money to take care of things like this for me. And she was leaving them until FRIDAY to clean them once. So, I actually had to sit there and say, "Now, you need to go into each bathroom each day and if the toilet looks dirty, you must clean it". To which she replied "Everyday???" to which I replied, "" Geesh. It takes all of 60 seconds.

(and, BTW? I had to clean that toilet before I took that picture. So my lecture didn't even work. Maybe I need more visuals next time)

Very Annoying

The System. During our last talk with her we encouraged her to plan her dr.'s visits on her day off, Monday, and when she couldn't we would just deduct the time off from her vacation days (all Brazilians, including maids, get 30 PAID days of vacation a year). So, all was well. For a while.

Then one day she comes and says she shouldn't have to use her day off, and that we have to give her the time off AND pay her for it. This is very, very annoying to me because we, as her employers are only required by law to give her Sundays off and we give her 1/2 day Saturday, all day Sunday AND all day Monday. And it would be easier to deal with if we were talking about once a month for a couple of hours. But she "has" to go twice a month and it takes ALL DAY-she does not come to work the days that she has an appointment. But, sure enough, Brazilian law says it's so and therefore she can basically do what she wants.

And there is not a thing I can do about it. That is the worst part of this situation. If I get mad and make an issue out of every little thing, I have a belligerent person in my house. Not fun. When things would get tough in the past with a maid it was comforting to think, "Well, at least I can fire her if it gets bad enough" but not this time. We are stuck paying her until next September.

On the positive side, the situation is giving me some serious practice at trying to choose not to be annoyed and angry about things. I wish I could say that after 3 months I've mastered it, but I haven't. I spend a lot of time grouchy about maid issues. Just ask Guapo. Or my mom. Or Ballerina Girl.

Maybe after another TEN months of it and I'll be an expert!!! (Or I'll be in the looney bin for holding it all in and finally exploding... or in jail...)

(is that way more than you wanted to know???)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Fighting off the Blogging Blahs

I feel a blogging lull coming over me, so I'm trying to fight it off with a post. Luckily, Maine Mom tagged me for what sounded like an easy, quick post:

I'm supposed to go to my pictures file and upload the 4th photo in the 4th folder and the 6th photo in the 6th folder.

Sounds easy right?

Well, not if you are me and 1) love lots and lots of sub-folders to organize your photos and 2) are obsessive compulsive about keeping rules.

It starts well as I open my "my pictures" file. Then I count down 4 files and was about to open it, but wait, the 1st file was my "adobe" file where I keep my outgoing emailable pictures-not really photos that I use. Should I count that? And hey, the 3rd folder is one for bookclub that I use to save pictures of book covers of books on the too buy list. Does that count?

I don't think so.

Ok, so I'll just skip those two and count to the 4th file (which is really the 6th which is making me feel slightly uncomfortable already). No pictures, just more folders. So do I just pick whatever folder I want and pick out the 4th picture, or do I count to the 4th folder in this folder??? Or the 3rd because I already opened 1 folder?

Hmmmm. I'll just go to the 4th folder within the 4th folder.

Ok, this one's got one folder and (finally) some pictures. But do I count the folder as a picture and count to the third picture?

(Ward Christmas Party 2006)

Or, do I just ignore the folder (even though it is listed 1st) and just put the 4th photo?

(Juan Carlos on Santa's lap at the same Christmas Party)

Or, do I open the folder and take the 4th picture???

(Christmas Tree-Mexico City 2006)

maybe I count the sub-folder as one and take the 3rd picture?

(making cinnamon ornaments)

As I start to question my decision about not counting the bookclub folder, I realize that this is for MY BLOG and not really an issue that I should be spending so much brain power on. I mean, I could just stick two random pictures on and you would never know.

But then I would feel like I was cheating...

Sorry, but I'm not even taking you through Folder 6, Photo 6, but I did find this cute picture of Ronald from our Mexico days:

Pheww. That wore me out.

So help me out here-which of these posts are you most interested in:

  • "It's My Way or I'll Make You Pay" Pedro's New Motto
  • Finally-A Solid Poop!
  • Meat-Flavored Chips: Brazilian Fad or Worldwide Phenomenon?
  • I Serve By Receiving Massages
  • Why I Pay Someone to Annoy Me: A Maid Update
Or, feel free to ask me a question! Help me get through this blogger's block!

(And if you'd like to take the Photo Challenge, considered yourself tagged. It'll be really easy if you're not anal like me)

Monday, November 03, 2008

The Best of Brazil- Fresh Squeezed Tangerine Juice


Fresh tangerine juice. For about 6 months of the year here in Big City, the grocery store that I shop at, Hortifruti (pronounced "oat-chi-fruit-chi", kind of fun to say) has fresh squeezed tangerine juice. Year round they have a lovely selection of fresh juices like, orange, pineapple, pineapple with mint (sounds kind of gross, but it's really good), watermelon, papaya (ewwww), papaya and orange, orange and carrot, kiwi, etc. etc. But the tangerine juice is my favorite. Of course, it's the most expensive, but I really don't care. You can't get it the States so I have to take advantage of it while I live here.

Sadly, we are back to nasty long-life boxed milk here after enjoying fresh in Mexico City, but at least I have my juice!