Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Trip: Colorado Portion

I can't believe it's already been 10 days. We've had a great time in Colorado and we are headed to Utah in about 15 minutes for the second part of our trip. Here are the highlights of our trip so far:

(This picture was taken minutes after arriving at my parent's house) Pedro, obviously feeling very comfortable in his new surroundings, got right on making a mess of my mom's bathroom:

They ended up putting up a gate to keep Pedro out of the bathroom.

We got to pick out a real tree this year (Guapo's dream):

Although we were hoping for a white Christmas, it only snowed for about 5 minutes one day. I don't even think you can see the snow falling in this picture, but I promise it was:

We went to a Nuggets game in my dad's office's fancy-shmancy box. They were giving out free reindeer webkinz to all kids and the Nuggets won-so it was pretty much a great night for all involved:

They climbed the wall at the mall:

They got to make fudge and cookies with grandma (I can't tell you what a treat it was NOT to be in charge of these activities!):

(of course, no one wanted to eat Pedro's creations).

The one bad part of the week (and it turned out ok in the end) was that on Christmas Eve day we lost Juan Carlos and Julio for about an hour and a half. Unbeknownst to any adults in the house, they had gone over to a neighbor's to play and were in the basement where no one could here our repeated knocks, so we assumed the neighbors were gone. We frantically searched the nearby park and pond; finally, worrying (well, more like hoping at that moment) that maybe they got lost and wouldn't know the address or phone number of my parents' house, we called the police and they started searching. I'm pretty sure it was the worst hour and a half of my life. I felt like I was suffocating, about to throw up, and pass out all at the same time.

Guapo kept returning to the neighbor's with no luck; then he just felt like he should go inside, so he just opened the front door and he saw their shoes by the stairs (after, the officer joked that he was going to have to charge him with trespassing). They were fine and had no idea they had caused all of us such grief. The nice policeman in charge of the search talked to them about always telling someone where they are and he gave them a sticker:

What an ordeal! I so thankful am it ended happy. The experience served as a very strong reminder of what is really important in life.

That night we did our traditional steamy fondue with the family:

...and later that night Santa visited the house:

We finally joined the 21st century and got a Wii for Christmas. I am a staunch opponent of video games-we'll see how long before I regret the decision. Speaking of the which, please let me know if you can recommend any good, ACTIVE, games for the kids.

And, Guapo and I got a "grown-up" camera. So hopefully the quality of our photos will improve (I'm still scared to use it-so I've got nothing to show you yet.).

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas holiday!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

19 Hours 48 Minutes 32 Seconds

The amount of time that it took to get from our door in Brazil to my parents door in Colorado.

And all the stars were aligned in our favor: we were on the maiden voyage of a non-stop flight between Rio and Houston (normally you have to stop in Sao Paulo (an hour out of the way) for an hour (unless there are audio visual problems, which there always seems to be, in which case it can be an extra hour or two)), and we walked right on to our connection in Houston (instead of waiting around for a couple of hours like normal).

Imagine traveling with Pedro for almost 20 hours, frequently having to restrain him in his car seat or stroller (NOT his favorite thing). The very thought of having the little dude out in public for that long gives me nightmares.

We totally lucked out-he was an angel. He slept 7 1/2 out of 10 hours on the first flight and an hour on the second flight and was generally agreeable during his waking hours. It did help that there was another baby who screamed the.entire.night. therefore making him look like a champ. He got lots of nice compliments about what a sweet baby he was..if they only knew his true capabilities!

Anyway, we are here and trying hard to fight off jet lag (5 hours time difference) by staying up as long as we can. It's now 8:20 and my eyes are closing involuntarily (forgive any typos or poor sentence structure).

The first "American" thing I did today? Took my four tired, over-traveled, grouchy, toy-starved kids to Target less than a week before Christmas when of course I wasn't going to let them buy anything because we don't know yet what they'll get from Santa. Not the best idea I've had in a long time, but I couldn't resist the ole Tar-jay. We made it out of the store with only a few tears.

It's wonderful to be home. There's nothing like it!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Why the Lack of Christmas Posts?

For the last two years, during the month of December, I have posted all about our daily Christmas activities.

"And this year?" you ask.

Sorry, not this year. The past two years I have activated "Plan December" to make our home feel "Christmasy" while living in places far from home where it sometime doesn't feel that "Christmasy" to me. We are south of the equator here in Brazil, so Christmas is during the summer, which is why there are decorations like this all around:

These basking Santas are all over the place, and so you can see just how big Big Bathing Santa is, here's a little perspective:

Cute? Creepy? I can't decide.

Well, this year we are going home (YAY!!!), so I don't feel quite so motivated to do so many activities.

And, besides that, I'm just tired. Three kids in school, all with different end of the year activities- I'm exhausted. Since December 1st I've had 3 different music programs, two bake sales, a field trip, a mom-given presentation on the US, a mom-led craft, not to mention the holiday parties, teacher and friend gifts, etc. etc. I don't know how many dozens of cookies I've sent to school.

I'm throwing the towel in tomorrow and sending in the last of my American candy for Margarita's and Juan Carlos's parties.

So, we've done some of the Christmas stuff like decorating, watching Christmas movies and reading Christmas books...I measured the kids for the growing tree (Pedro was the big winner, growing 4" in the last year; Julio was a close second with 3 1/2"; Margarita grew 2 1/2" and Juan Carlos grew 2"). But, no crafts or baking.

It's just not as fun to bake when it's summer out.

So, Christmas will officially start on Friday morning when we arrive in Colorado! We'll probably all freeze to death, but at least it will feel Christmasy.

In other news: Pedro is in LOVE with his big sister. It is so cute to watch him follow her around, and, it gives me a little break.

And if you're looking for a good book, I just finished this one:

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. I the first paragraph to the last. Excellent!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Mystery Solved (sort-of)

Well, within 5 minutes of her being here this morning, my maid found the missing fabric.

The funny thing is is that she found it in a place I know I looked at least twice and Guapo looked once (behind the sofa in the living room).


I'm not even going to try to figure it out. I don't even care at this point. I'm sure you don't either.

And, I ended up using the new fabric anyway.

End of the uninteresting story.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Cold Case

The fabric that I was going to use to bind the quilt for my sister's baby is officially GONE. I had bought a yard of two different fabrics because I wasn't sure which I liked better.

How do 2 yards of fabric disappear?

After searching every inch of this house (wasting hours of my time) I am assuming now that foul play was involved. I looked under every cushion, behind and under every piece of furniture, in every drawer, in every closet, in every rubbermaid container (and believe me, I have quite a few), EVERYWHERE.

This is another disadvantage of having a maid-when something goes missing, you can't help but wonder if they had something to do with it. My kids swear they didn't see it, touch it, move it and I think after watching me pull my hair out for two days straight they would have fessed up. If the guilt didn't move them, then the $5.00 cash reward would have (yes, sometimes I pay my kids to find things for me. It saves me a lot of time and is pretty cheap at this point in their lives). Guapo was out of town. So, the only other person that has been in the house was our maid.

I don't like to think that way, but I just can't imagine what could have happened to it. Maybe Pedro destroyed it with a marker while I was gone and she took care of the evidence? Or she "accidentally" threw it away? I don't know, but it's NOT here. I'll probably find it when we are moving out of here and then I'll feel bad for thinking it was her, but at this point I can't think of any other logical explanation (and to assuage my guilt, I will of course post about it).

When I asked her about it-after she did a quick token run through the house, she told me, "Well, maybe you took it somewhere and left it there."

Innocent suggestion? Maybe, but my suspicious mind felt like she was admitting it wasn't anywhere in the house. It's not like I'm in the habit of taking my fabric to the grocery store or to the school with me. But then I started to feel guilty about being suspicious and I actually walked to the quilt store and asked if I had left some fabric there (which I had gone to last week, albeit without the fabric). The lady looked at me like I was slightly crazy.

On the bright side, I went to a quilt store here in our neighborhood and found a very cute fabric to replace the missing fabric.

The quilt will be finished!

Friday, December 05, 2008

End of the Week

The quilt is quilted.

I think that's the fastest I've every quilted before and therefore the most pain-free quilt as far as Guapo's concerned. I don't even think he even saw me quilting once.

But, someone is seriously trying to mess with me because now I can't find the fabric for the binding. Where could it be??? I am at a total loss. I just had it Sunday and now it's nowhere to be found. It's not like it would get thrown out. Or would it? Is my maid totally sabotaging me?

In addition to quilting until my fingers bled this week I also had some other activities. One of those was to change my layout, and even though I spent lots of time reading a tutorial on how NOT to lose my widgets, I have seemed to misplaced them along with my fabric. :( Sorry bloggy friends, you are still my friends, but your names aren't there today. They will be soon. Please leave me a comment even in you find my post dull, just so I won't have to google you. :)

Bookclub Christmas Party

Remember last year's fiasco? First I tried to save myself some energy so I bought a potato salad that ended up costing me upwards of $60.00 and then, as if that weren't enough, I lost my awesome bag chocked full of American food stuffs in the white-elephant gift exchange and was left with some Unicef place mats.

This year's party was held at Ballerina Girl's home. She is the best hostess; the kind of hostess I dream of being. You arrive at her house and she looks lovely and relaxed (whereas I usually look frazzled and sweaty), and her home looks beautiful (she doesn't have a Pedro, so this helps). And while she's whipping up her own lovely flower arrangements, her Indonesian maid is whipping up all sorts of yummy foods for us all to eat. It was great.

This year was an improvement in that I spent hardly anything on my dish (I made cinnamon rolls). As far as the gift exchange, I fared a lot better mentally this year. Getting my present stolen last year really annoyed me. Bookclub members still talk about my loss on a regular basis (ok, really only when we were discussing plans for this year's party... and I brought it up).

This year, a very nice serving dish was stolen from me and I was left with this decorative wall hanging:

Do I love it? No. But, I'm not losing any sleep over it so I think I've really matured in the last year (not really. Let's face it, the serving dish didn't have anything on macaroni and cheese, chocolate chips, and Stove top stuffing).

All in all a good experience.

Kindergarten Field Trip

Juan Carlos has a touch of separation anxiety, so his teacher invited me to go on their field trip with him. The plan was to go to a marina where we would visit a naval museum and go on a ferry ride. I wasn't looking forward to it; I may have been hoping for rain (isn't that awful?) so it would be canceled. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my kindergartner, but hanging out with 39 of them all hyped up with field trip glee right next to a large body of water isn't my idea of an ideal day (especially when there are quilts that need quilting).

But, it turned out great and I'm really glad they invited me. The weather was perfect, the kids were cute, and no one fell in the water.

And, it reminded me how grateful I am for kindergarten teachers. I could NEVER do that job. There are like 1000 other jobs, many of them blue collar, that I rather have. I really think they deserve six-figure salaries. I am thankful that there are so many different types of people in the world that enjoy doing different things.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Ahhh, That's Better.

Today I:

  • ran 5 miles
  • took a shower
  • finished and ordered the photobook
  • finished the applique portions of the quilt
  • basted the quilt
  • started quilting the quilt
  • made 4 dozen cinnamon rolls for various activities tomorrow

All that and I was nice to my kids. What a great day.

And how cool is this? My parents went to Seattle to spend Thanksgiving with my sister. They originally made the plans because my mom was going to run the Seattle Marathon. After she registered, she had to have knee surgery and wasn't able to run. They went to the expo the night before just to pick up the shirt that was included with the price of entry. While at the expo (the night before), my dad decided he would walk in my mom's place. No physical prep. No mental prep. He just went and did it and he finished in 6 1/2 hours! Not bad dad!!!

Ok, this next one's not for the faint of heart, but it's pretty funny. You have to understand that the bottom of my dad's feet are like a baby's bottom, and he treats them as such. The man is a disaster on the beach and he is very anal about how he puts his socks on, they have to be just right (think Mr. Pitt from Seinfeld).

Check out these blisters:


Three cheers for you, dad!!!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Because I Want to Be a Good Blogger...

...I will post. But, my heart is elsewhere.

You see, I am in Obsessive Mode. My mind is fixated on two things:

1) a photo book from our summer trip


2) a quilt for my sister's baby who isn't due until April.

Why do I do this to myself?

Let me explain. I want to do the photo book because the longer I wait, the more likely it will be that I will never document our 2 month trip to the States and all of our memories will be dim. And, I have a coupon for 20% off that is only good until Wednesday. My book is 56 pages and 220 photos so far, so the coupon will come in handy. But I fear that I will use it and an even better coupon will be issued... What to do?

And the quilt. My sister is having a shower in January and I will actually be able to attend and since I can't send stuff from here say at a later, post-holiday-more convenient date, I need to give it to her at her shower. "It's just a baby quilt," I tell myself, "No problem! It won't take hardly anytime at all." It really is cute, I wish I could post a picture, but she reads my blog sometimes, so it will have to wait.

Here's my thought process when I get like this, "I know I am neglecting X, Y and Z, but if I finish this soon, then my time will be completely freed up, and I'll be able to give lots of attention to X, Y and Z." Which isn't really rational thinking because of course there's always something else to obsess about...

What makes it 100X worse is that Guapo left for the week today and so it gives me an even greater push to get things done since he doesn't love it so much when I sit and quilt all night (I can't imagine why???). I stay up way to late when he's not here.

I haven't even had a shower today and now it's almost midnight here. I'm sorry if that grosses you out, but that's how I am when I'm obsessing.

Anyway, I should be focusing on Christmas (or my kids) and instead I am obsessing with a book and a quilt. I am blogging so I don't feel guilty about not blogging. Oh well, at least I'm doing it, right?

Anyway, here's a few Christmas-y shots to try to get me in the spirit:

The crew decorating the tree last night:

Pedro didn't quite get the concept of hanging the ornaments. He would grab whatever he could get his hands on, oftentimes an ornament that had already be hung with care, and just huck it up at the tree.

This year was Juan Carlos's turn to put the star on:

Saturday night, the big tree was lit on the Lagoa in front of our apartment. We had a few people over to watch the tree lighting ceremony.

I love the tree this year (it's different every year). It's got a star and angels on the top and it plays bells every hour on the hour.

And just in case you're wondering what Pedro's up to today, he's completely stopped saying, "No" and will only say "No Way". And it used to be like, "No (brain sending the message to the tongue) Way" and now it's like "NoWay". Sometimes now instead of "Yes" he will say, "Yes Way". And, good news-his hair has recovered from the vaseline incident.

now if you'll excuse me I've got to go quilt, or make my book. I'll be back when I'm done. (just wait til you see what a good blogger I am after I finish my projects...)