Friday, May 29, 2009

Life's Not Fair

I tell this to my kids regularly when they experience their "kid-sized" problems; like when Julio sneaks the last cookie before anyone else has a chance at it, or Margarita gets to stay up a little longer to read at night than the boys, or when they don't get to go to a party that they want to attend.

By telling them this, I think I kind of wash my hands of dealing with the feelings they have regarding the situation, and expect them to instantly comprehend and accept that things won't always go how they want them to go.

You haven't heard much about our new maid. The lack of posts regarding her is indicative that all is finally well in the maid department. She is a superb maid, probably the best we've ever had in 8 years. She's mature, responsible, kind, and just a good person and conscientious mom.

Today was her son's 14th birthday.

Tomorrow is the 5th anniversary of her husband's death.

He died, completely unexpectedly, of a heart attack at the age of 35. She was left alone to raise her 9 and 6 year old sons.

This makes me feel horrible. How is it that I have my husband here to support me and our kids while she has to do it on her own? And what if my "luck" were to run out, how would I deal with it?

Life certainly isn't fair, it's true. I think I'm going to be a little bit more understanding the next time my kids don't like that explanation.

Sometimes, I don't like it either.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

3 Weeks, 5 Hours, 32 Minutes (But Who's Counting?)

Just that long until I leave for home. I feel like a little kid who physically cannot wait any longer. So, what do I do when I feel that way? Make myself insanely busy with projects. So here's a quick update on my life:


Margarita arrived without incident from Knoxville Monday morning. It's so nice to have a complete family again. It's been a 4 days now and Juan Carlos keeps saying, "I'm so glad she's home." So cute.

Along with getting her home (which was the biggest prize), I also got lots of goodies from my mom. The most important goody was a big box of Tide. I'm sure it will only last a couple of weeks as the maid just can't accept the power of concentrated soap and uses way to much, but at least I have it for now. Pedro got enough diapers to last him til we leave enabling me to fulfill my strange goal of never buying a diaper here. I guess that's where Margarita gets it from. And some new American candy, of which I am partaking even as I type this post.

The end of the year is crazy; we've got 3 music programs, portfolio sharings, 2 graduations (kinder and 5th grade), and who knows how many other things before it's all said and done with.


I had my worst long run to date this week.

I was supposed to run 1 hour and 45 minute. Guapo was out of town so I had to wait until the maid got here which put me leaving 30 minutes later than normal. When I started my run at 7 am, it was already 82 degrees out, not a cloud in the sky. Not good. I had to take a break after 1 hour 25 minutes and if you know me, you know that's not like me. I rather be sick or injure myself than quit a run early (stupid, I know, but true). I made an exception this time because I really started to worry that I was about to have heat stroke or something so I stopped and sat down for a few minutes and then started again, DETERMINED to finish.

I only made it 10 more minutes at which point my body utterly refused to go on.

I spent the rest of the day feeling like crap. And, now I'm worrying about next week's run. :(


I think I have some kind of organizing sickness.

Is that a thing?

Not like obsessive compulsiveness, because I'm not like this all the time. A couple of times a year I get in this mood and it's like I am only happy if I am organizing something. Last night, I was slightly stressed out (probably from trying to organize with 4 kids at home) so Guapo offered to bathe the kids and get them ready for bed while I "relaxed". So what do I do? Sit and watch TV, or read a book, or get online? No. I snuck downstairs and organized 3 drawers and a little cupboard that had been bothering me all day. Today I organized all of the pens, pencils, markers, colored pencils into their own designated holders. That will last all of 10 minutes.

In the last week I have:

-sorted through all the kids clothes and shoes
-sorted through all the school work from this year
-scanned important documents and special school work
-cleaned all closets out
-organized toys and games
-gone through all medicines, sunscreens and bug sprays looking for expired products
-gotten rid of all cruddy looking picture frames
-gotten rid of all old magazines

Agggh! I'm driving myself insane. I lay in bed at night and think of what I want to organize the next day. I think there's something wrong with me.

Photo Book Project

(An extension of the organizing problem)

Last year I made a goal of making a photo book for each kid for each school year. They loved getting their book last year and look at them often. But, it is pretty time consuming to find all relevant pictures of each kid from the last year. And, I finally finished a book from our Christmas trip.


Did I mention I started taking piano lessons again? I have the greatest teacher here- I just love her. She has several adult students and holds a "recital" for them every 2 months. My first one is in two weeks. I loathe playing in front of other people, but I will do it because I really want to get better.

So, there you have it. That's what I'm up to and why I haven't been posting more. I'm trying to keep myself so busy that the next three weeks fly by and before I know it, I'll be drinking cold, fresh milk and visiting Target twice a day.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

I Need Someone (Specifically, Margarita) to Fill Up My Water Bottle

I miss Margarita. She's been gone for almost a week now.

Just a little example of how thoughtful Margarita is: she fills my water bottle ever night before she goes to bed. Every night. She never forgets. So, every time I drink my water, or even look at my water bottle I think of her.

She's doing fine-my parents are there with her now. They said her team did a great job on their performance yesterday, that they were very confident and commanded the attention of the audience.

Two more sleeps and she'll be home. :)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Two Week Paid Ear Infection

The Brazilian system has struck again.

Sergio the Driver has been out sick since Monday. He has an inner ear infection. His doctor gave him a note saying that he needs 15 days off work to recover from this inner ear infection.

Of course I am sympathetic to illness. Of course I don't want him to come if he's sick and needs to be home in bed.

But...15 days for an ear infection??? A common course of antibiotics is 10 days.

Puh-lease. Abuse, I say.

He says he'll try to come back on Monday-but he's under no legal obligation to return. We'll see.

Thanks for asking, I am doing fine without my driver. It's not really the driving that's a problem here- so long as you are aware of people's nasty little habit of turning left from the right lane and right from the left lane; it's the parking (or serious lack thereof) that will get you every time. But, we are managing just fine. (Not so fine that I don't want him to come back though...)

And yes, I realize I have just seriously increased my chances of having an inner ear infection that lasts for 2+ weeks.

Monday, May 18, 2009

2 Massages in Less than 24 hours and Margarita Heads to Knoxville

Our little getaway was great. I won't make you jealous with all of the relaxing details, I'll just give you the basic outline of our trip:

1. Drive there-take a nap in the car
2. Get a massage upon arrival
3. Go out to dinner
4. Come back and relax before bed-read my book
5. Sleep without interruption until 9:00 am
6. Eat breakfast
7. Get another massage (hot stone-ahhhhhh)
8. Drive home-take a nap in the car

Sounds nice, huh? It was fun. The place was beautiful. Here was the view from our deck:

Flowers in our room:

When we came back after dinner our bed looked like this:

One awesome plant/tree:

One very mean tree:

And now it's back to reality.

Margarita left yesterday for the Destination Imagination Finals in Knoxville, TN where she will represent Brazil. It was weird seeing her off at the airport-sending her to a different continent in a different hemisphere. She seemed fine with it all though and there were a lot of responsible adults going along, so I'm sure she'll be ok.

Poor Juan Carlos (6 yrs old) cried all the way home from the airport missing her. We finally got him calmed down and in bed when he discovered a note she had left him under his pillow and the tears began again. She left us all hidden notes telling us that she loves us and will miss us. How sweet is that?

My parents are going to be able to go to TN this weekend to see her. I'm pretty sure they deserve some kind of grandparent award. They are always telling me how they wish we lived closer so they could be apart of the kids' activities. I think being willing to fly to Atlanta, rent a car, and drive on to Knoxville to see their granddaughter for 2 1/2 days pretty much proves they are serious about that. Thanks mom and dad!

The wealth at our kids' school never ceases to amaze me. In all the other places we've lived, expats normally far out number local students within an international school and are considered kind of a rich, elite bunch. (Which isn't really true at all since most expats' perceived wealth comes from their company's money anyway, but whatever, that's how it is.) Here in Brazil there are many more Brazilians at the school than foreigners and we expats are kind of like low class hillbillies. They all know that we don't pay for our cars, drivers, apartments or the $25,000 tuition like they do.

Most of the local students are load-ed. Julio had a girl with an elephant in his class last year. All sorts of people have Gucci accessories, armoured cars, helicopters, farms in the country, beach houses, and a privileged few even have an island or two (yes, islands). Margarita is one of only three 5th graders that don't have a cell phone-and most all of the kids have an iPhone (or two). One of the kindergartners that came to Juan Carlos's birthday party was even toting a cell phone. (What in the world?)

Anyway, Margarita wanted to know how much spending money we were going to send with her. She informed me that one of her friends was taking $2,000.00 but that another one was only taking $500.00. I asked her how much she had accumulated from her $5.00 weekly allowance. And then I was generous and told her we would match whatever she took out.

So our "poor" daughter is travelling with $120.00 spending money. Which I think is a lot for an 11 year old!

And can I just say I am dreading tomorrow and my little 100 minute run? Uggggh.

(Update: I'm done with the run! Yay! And it wasn't nearly as painful as last week. I can still walk fairly normally.)

Friday, May 15, 2009

I'm Off

Well, I'm headed off for my relaxing spa 24 hours. And not a moment to soon.

This morning I was completely abused at the fruit and vegetable market near our house.

I entered at a different place than I normally do and was instantly bombarded by two competing, over-zealous fruit men offering me all sorts of "bargains". Long story short-I ended up with 8 mangoes (I already had 3 at home), a little bag of strawberries that I soon figured out cost me 3X what other vendors were charging, and little slice of watermelon. Because I spent all my money between these two guys (I didn't want to make one feel bad by only buying from the other-totally manipulated-I know!) I didn't get the things I really needed. I'm sure those two jerks are still laughing about it.

I really hate feeling taken advantage of.

My maid just chuckled and told me I should walk around and see everything first, before I buy anything. Ya think? I just got totally flustered. Oh well.

It will just make my massage feel that much better.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Why I'm Walking Like an 85 Year Old on My 35th Birthday

Because my birthday happened to fall on a dreaded Long Run Tuesday.

Here's my 11 mile route today:

Ouch. I came home, drank a gallon of water, almost threw up, and laid on the floor while Pedro watched Wonder Pets (does that completely annoy anyone else?). My legs tightened up to the point that I cannot walk normally. Lovely, eh? I seem to be asking myself every Tuesday why it is exactly that I am doing this race. I don't really have a good answer.

Other than that it's been a good day. I went out to lunch with Guapo. My dad had knee surgery and came out of it ok. There's a yummy key lime pie waiting for me in the fridge.

Ok, I just opened my gifts. Guapo gave me a spa getaway for one night this weekend. (Yippee!)

I'm pretty sure I can use a nice long massage right about now (see above). Awesome.

I feel so grateful lately for my life and for my family (I find reading books on WWII helps a lot in this department). I amazed at what some people go through in this world with illnesses, tragedies, and unhappiness. I don't know how I've gotten so lucky so far in my life-but I really am grateful for all I have. I've got great kids, a husband that I love, good health, loving parents and in-laws, and everything that I need. Life is good.

Here's to 35 years!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

Ahhhh. I just woke up from a refreshing nap. Now I'm sitting here, all by myself, in my room, grazing from a new stash of American candy that my brother and sister-in-law brought us, while Guapo manages the chaos of the children whilst making dinner. I already had breakfast in bed and help with the kids this morning as Guapo didn't have an early morning meetings at church.

Oh how I love Mother's Day.

As I was sitting here trying to decide which leisurely activity to engage in next, I remembered my poor little blog who hasn't seen much of me this week because of our candy-bearing visitors. Not that they were difficult or anything, on the contrary, they were very easy to have around; they played with the kids, helped with the dishes, and even toured all the sites on their own, sparing me the chore of seeing things I've already seen 100 times. But, visitors always make for a nice excuse for a little vacation from the blog, ya know?

Here they are hanging out with Pedro:

The only negative thing about their visit was the fact that I kind of feel aged now. To hear them talk about the "old" people in their ward, those decrepit old geezers in the 35-to 40-year old range, was more than a tad bit disturbing. I'm sure felt the same when I was that age, but man, it's painful to be on the other end!

So, anyway, back to Mother's Day.

I got a very delicate orchid that I'm afraid to look at directly for fear it will die instantly (I do not have a good track record with orchids. Or any live plants to be perfectly honest):

Ballerina girl gave me this lovely bouquet of flowers (much less stressful-these flowers are supposed to die):

Juan Carlos gave me a ladybug box:

The three big kids make me great cards:

And Harold, I mean Pedro, made some "wittle houses" for me during his nap time with his famous purple crayon that he must have snuck in in his diaper.

And, as you can see, he's trying to find his own fashion-sense these days.

It has been a great day.

Happy Mother's Day to my wonderful mom and mother-in-law to whom I am so grateful for their friendship and support; to my sister and sister-in-laws (my brother's wife became a mom just yesterday with the birth of her sweet little boy!); and to all my friends-past and present, real and virtual, who make me a better mom. And a special thanks to my wonderful, precious kids-I am proud to be called your mom, and to Guapo, for without him, none of this would be possible.

Happy Mother's Day!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Why Tuesday Is the New Monday

Isn't the "X is the new Y" phrase totally over used and cliche now? Well, sorry, but I never really got sick of it since I wasn't living in the States when the whole thing started-and speaking of the which, did it all start because of that line in Devil Wears Prada, or had it started before that?

Anyway, back to why Tuesday is the "new Monday". It's not really the new "Monday" because I've never been a person who dislikes Monday; when I was a kid I didn't dreaded school the way some people did (Guapo) and now I like it because my kids go back to school and I get a little peace and quiet around here (sorry kids, just being honest).

But then, my little cliche phrase wouldn't have worked had I used some day other than Monday, right?

My blog and the fates have chosen thus far not to interfere with my half-marathon training.

And so I continue...

I don't really follow a training program per say-too rigid and then if I don't do as well as I had intended to, at least I can find comfort in telling myself, "well, had I had a training program perhaps..."

My program includes 4 days of running:

1 long run (each on 5-10 minutes longer than the previous week)
1 fast run
1 uphill run
1 normal run

Tuesday is the designated Long Run day. I never take the kids to school on Tuesday because Pedro has his swim class-so I've been getting up earlier and earlier (not my forte) each Tuesday to finish in time to watch him swim.

Here was my course today:

10. 5 miles in 90 minutes and, no, I wasn't drunk (or swimming) as the line may suggest.

I don't really mind the actual run-it's just how crappy I feel the rest of the day-tired, achy and a little grouchy. The sad thing is, no matter how much I train here at sea level there's not much I can do to prepare for the 10,500 ft of altitude that I'll face on race day. I'm considering running with some cotton up my nose to reduce the amount of oxygen available.

At least I am 7 (well, 6 1/2 now) days away from 95 minutes.

Unless my blog curses me first...(please?)

Friday, May 01, 2009

Birthday Party Report

We survived the birthday party and actually had a very nice time. We were served leg of lamb at 11 pm, but other than that, it was pretty normal. We made it home just after midnight-not too bad. It of course wasn't too surprising that we were the first to leave the party.

Our friend is just such a cute guy. He is so with it for an 87 year old-he's up on all current events, remembers all of our kids' names and ages, and is just a pleasant, positive person to be around. His wife is so sweet to me, whenever I'm around her she is constantly telling me how young I look for someone who has 4 kids. I like being around people like that. :)

Here he is blowing out his candles:

And here he is with his wife and 21 year old daughter (we found out she was adopted which saves me the time of constantly trying to do the math as to how old his wife must have been when she had her):

Someone at the party asked him what his secret is for aging so well. He attributed it to 3 things:

1. Having a daughter when he was 66
2. Joining the LDS church when he was 81
3. Always using sunscreen

He is the only member of the church in his family and although his wife has some reservations about the church, she is very supportive of him. Here's the cake she made him:

Isn't that cute? A fishing pole, an American flag and a Book of Mormon.

And as far as a gift, we ended up giving him a copy of Gordon B. Hinckely's (previous president of the LDS church) book, "Standing for Something". I think he'll like it.

I can only hope that I am as happy and healthy when I am 87 years old (although I do hope I'm not still having kids in my late 60's)!