Monday, September 28, 2009

My Kids-September 2009

Here's a very grandparent-friendly post-a little synopsis of what my kids are up to right now. (read: you may be wise to have a little shot of caffeine before you read on).

Margarita (11 1/2 years old)

She is adjusting to life in middle school- lots of things to remember, assignments to turn in, etc.

She's getting great grades- we're almost at the end of the first quarter and she's got all A's.

She's learning her FOURTH language- French.

She still loves animals, especially cats.

She still fills my water bottle every night.

She is taking piano lessons.

She is on the middle school basketball team. I'm so proud of her, she is one of only four 6th graders that play with a bunch of much bigger girls (practically women, I tell you) who have played together for years and she never gets discouraged.

She is doing Destination Imagination again this year, despite the fact that her best friend isn't doing it with her.

She gets Pedro ready for bed almost every night.

She doesn't care if her clothes match at all, she has taken a dislike to normal white socks, and she avoids brushing her hair at all costs. It's (mostly) fine with me (except for the hair part), the longer the boys don't notice her the better. We lovingly refer to her as "Punky" (as in Punky Brewster).

Julio (almost 9 years old)

Julio is my non-tween tween.

He would live with his ipod going 24-7 if I let him.

Sometimes I have to go into his room to tell him to "TURN IT DOWN!"

He likes all of those Disney singers-like the Jonas Brothers and Demi Levado, but he also loves John Denver (?).

He takes awesome photos with our good camera (this irritates me to no end).

He is taking piano lessons. His teacher is teaching him some Star Wars songs and the Indiana Jones song. His favorite place to practice these is during Primary at church (much to my chagrin).

He cares what he looks like and his clothes are always matching.

He plays soccer and tennis right now.

He must be bouncing, kicking, or throwing a ball at all times.

He is doing GREAT at school. Does well at every subject (not to sound braggy-but it's true!)

He has a big heart and loves his family very much.

Juan Carlos (6 1/2 years old)

I picked up my copy of So You Want to Raise a Boy by W. Cleon Skousen (yikes-what a name), which I've never actually read cover to cover, but pick up occasionally just to see if my boys are within the range of "normal". I was cracking up reading about 6 year old boys-it fits Juan Carlos to a tee (keep in mind this book was published in 1962):

"First and foremost he appears to be a wiggle-worm. He acts as though every part of his anatomy were attached to springs or someone had put itching powder in his breeches. Even when he's sitting he puts out more energy than a whirling dervish...He wiggles and writhes. He is so uncomfortable in one position that the teacher may see him pulling faces, jerking his arms about, striking some nearby boy or girl just to get a rise out of them. He wants to wrestle, run, jump and holler...he talks incessantly...With all this loose energy being thrown around, parents may get the idea Junior will accomplish something. Unfortunately, this is not the way he feels about it."

The kid is ALWAYS in motion.

He does what he refers to as the "Happy Dance" where he moves his feet so fast you can't see them. It looks like he's samba-ing.

He is happy with his teacher and his friends.

He was recently a fireman for his career day at work.

He takes a tennis class once a week.

He still resists going on playdates without me, and I don't push him.

He loves reading and has, on his own, started reading "chapter" books at home.

He was a proud owner of some sea-monkeys. Now he's grown bored of them and wants to take them out to the lake and set them free.

He still hasn't lost a tooth. (hehehe)

Ever since we went to Disneyland, he does this weird thing where he puts sunglasses on and says, in a very creepy voice, "Do I look like (pause) Micky Mouse?" He's got Pedro doing it now too.

He still loves me, but sadly (for me), I see him wanting to spend more and more time with his dad. This is another thing that book says happens between 6 and 7 with boys.

Pedro (2 1/2 years old)

Where to begin?

He is, for the most part, a very sweet little boy. However, when things don't go his way, he turns into a monster child in a matter of nano-seconds.

When he's mad he kicks, screams and hits. Today he pulled my hair in the checkout line at the store. When I put him down so he couldn't reach my hair anymore, he kicked me in the shin.

He eats only with his yellow fork and spoon.

He talks like a trooper.

He takes a nap in his crib (2-3 hours, yay!), but sleeps at night in the big bed.

He's taken to getting up before dawn and playing with his trains while the rest of us sleep on.

When I answer "yes" to whatever he is asking ("Can I have a pickle mom?" "Can I set my train down here?" "Can I watch a train show?") he responds with an enthusiastic "Yipee!"

When I tell him to do something that he doesn't want to do he says, "No fair!"

He likes to play "squeeze the lemonade" where he squeezes you or you squeeze him.

We sing Primary songs every night before he goes to sleep; if a song has the word "spirit" in it, he immediately stops me and says, "Mom, it's 'spirick' NOT 'spirit'".

He refuses to go on the potty, but tells me exactly when he's pooping (and asks me to leave the room) and when he wants me to change his diaper.

He is always a big hit with the ladies. Here he is with Margarita's basketball team (I am so kicking myself I didn't have the right lens on when it happened).

He loves all things to do with transportation, but especially trains and airplanes.

My kids are all healthy and happy-so I feel extremely blessed. :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bad House News

Here's Julio and Juan Carlos' ceiling:

Not good. It's dripping water and the drywall is falling off even as I type.

We had a plumber come out today who said this is a MAJOR drainage problem that will take at least a month to fix. A month? Do you know what a *month* means in Brazil (at least in this part of Brazil)? It's a whole lot closer to 3, 4 or 5 months (you just never know, but you do know it's going to be a lot longer than their estimate). He also mentioned that eventually (tomorrow? next week? in 5 years?), in the living room which is directly above the boys room, the water seeping through the walls will cause the floor to give off an electrical shock to anyone walking on it.


Guapo say he just said that to be dramatic and to freak me out. Guess what? It worked. I have this awful picture in my head now of poor Pedro's little body stiffening up as he unknowingly enters a electrical force field while cruising across the room to rewind his Blue's Clues video (yes, we still have a VHS player and videos and it's a dang good thing because Pedro recently broke our DVD player).

But I'm not sure what's worse, the ceiling falling on my kids, Pedro and the rest of us receiving periodic shock treatments, or, having a crew of men in my house for some indefinite period of time making holes in the ceilings (and floors). I can almost hear the pounding now.

Oh how I wish I could just put a big band aid over the hole and pretend there's no problem just until we move.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Yesterday's Binge (Not on Meat Chips)

I spent my day yesterday reading Suzanne Collin's Catching Fire, the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy.

Ballerina Girl ordered it for our book club and kindly offered it to me to read first. She's so nice. So, yesterday,

I played trains and read.

I played playdoh and read.

I finger painted and read (hope there's no paint on the book).

I ate lunch and read.

I wanted to read it to Pedro for his nap time story, but he said no.

I read during my nap time.

I grudgingly went to tennis (after having seriously contemplated skipping it); all the while my mind was on Katniss and Petaa.

I helped with homework while I read.

And just before dinner, I finished.

These books are like a drug. Despite the disturbing premise of these books, I love them. I naturally have an odd fascination with horrible dictators and the ordinary people who resist them, so these books are right up my alley.

Last night I felt kind of similar to how I do after I binge on a big plate of chocolate chip cookies, mainly, disappointed the object of my obsession is GONE. "Why did I read the whole thing today?" "Why didn't I save a little bit for tomorrow?" Not to mention that it makes going back to reading "normal" books a real chore.

Oh well, it was good while it lasted. Please Suzanne, hurry and write the next book.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Meat Chips

A long time ago I mentioned meat-flavored potato chips in a post. I did not elaborate. I promised I would in the future, and then I never did. How rude. I hope none of you have lost sleep wondering about the whos, whats, wheres, and mainly whys of meat-flavored chips.



A healthy, but by no means exhaustive, selection of meat-flavored chips.

Let's move in order from those I feel most comfortable with to those I tend to shy away from.

I am fairly comfortable with BBQ Rib flavored chips, although I would prefer if they just used the word "Barbecue" and left off the mention of "rib" altogether:

Then we've got our grilled beef flavor:

For those who prefer roasted beef to grilled beef, there's something for you too:

Doesn't the picture look delicious? Doesn't it make you feel like eating...a chip?

Maybe you're not red-meat eater, maybe you would prefer some nice turkey-breast chips (they also have chicken flavored chips, but I couldn't find those on this trip to the store):

And for the least health conscious, we've got my personal favorite (NOT), sausage chips:

Please don't think I am mocking Brazilian potato chips. The reason this post is so long in coming is that every time I buy the meat-flavored chips, before I can even take pictures of them, my kids wolf them down. I practically had to wrestle these bags out of their grubby little hands this morning. It wasn't pretty. I sent them away, almost in tears, with some much less exciting pretzels.

I should also mention here that Brazilians, in general, do not love chips the way Americans do. The chip section in the store takes up just a teeny little space and the biggest bag you can get is about 2X one of these snack-size bags. Maybe that's why they tend to be thinner than Americans.

Anyway, I've got to hide these bags before the kiddos get home or it will be a feeding frenzy. (Too late, Pedro just came up and noticed them on the couch)


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Brain Freeze Anyone?

We were talking at dinner tonight about brain freezes-you know, when you eat something cold quickly and it gives you a momentary headache. It seems that everyone in our family gets them except for me (I've never experienced it, that I can remember) and Juan Carlos (6 yrs old), who told me in a fairly serious voice, "it's rare, Mom," that he gets one (I don't know why him saying it like that cracks me up, but it does).

I'm just wondering if any other people out there DON'T suffer from "brain-freeze". Is NOT getting a brain-freeze some kind of recessive trait like hairy knuckles (which I do have, but don't worry, the few hairs that are there are fine,short, and blond) and attached earlobes (which I do not have)?


Also, my kids and I don't seem to get "sugar-highs" after eating junk.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

My One Goal-Free Activity

Our weekend was fun and uneventful so I won't bore you with the details. It's always nice to get out of the big bad city and let the kids run amok. I think our friends are still our friends despite our slightly rambunctious children. And, my favorite British word of the weekend, which I once knew but somehow forgot, was "nutter" as in, "That guy is such a nutter."

I've been a little busier than normal because I've loaded myself down with extra-curricular activities. I've got:

1. 4 children
2. Book club
3. Piano
4. Photography (it's time to finally learn how to use the camera I got for Christmas last year)
5. Running
6. Tennis

I'm a goal-oriented person; all of my activities are done with some end-point in mind. For example, I want my kids grow up to be normal, contributing members of society. I hope I can someday play piano in front of people (other than these people). I would like to take nice photos of my family and the cool places we visit at some point. I enjoy competing in running races and bettering my times, and, by reading lots of different kinds of books I hope to broaden my horizons.

The exception to this rule is tennis.

Now, I've been taking tennis lessons off and on over the last 6 1/2 years. The last time I played regularly was my first year in Small Town, Mexico. So, that was 4 years ago. I'm taking it up once again. I have one group lesson with Ballerina Girl and a couple of other ladies, and one private lesson each week.

I have no aspirations in tennis. I'm not even really interested in tennis. The US Open? I get bored watching it. I don't know who the tennis players are, past or present (well, except for Venus and Serena. But I don't know who's older or a better player, I only know their names). To be honest, I don't even really know how to score tennis. Games? Matches? Advantage? Whatever.

I just like taking lessons.

Oh, and I love the clothes.

I like having the instructor hit balls back and forth with me. If I can learn hit the ball a little harder and aim a little better, I'll be happy. That's it; that's as far as I want to take tennis in my life. I don't really want to even learn to serve because that would make me more prepared to play in an actual game with other people.

What has this taught me about myself? I have learned that, it may be possible, that because I have no goals related to tennis, I completely enjoy it. I love going to my lessons, wearing the cute clothes, and feeling like I've gotten a good workout, with no strings attached.

This realization is kind of freaking me out; now I'm thinking I should have some more goal-free activities-maybe I'd be happier. :)

Friday, September 04, 2009

A Little Weekend Away

We are headed out of town for the first of many long weekends before Christmas (I think we have 6 or 7 more). We are going up to the mountains where we have rented a two-home property with some friends.

Our friends have two very mild-mannered, well behaved, QUIET, girls. I think they're going to be in shock when spend more than an hour with Pedro, Juan Carlos and Julio, but they assure us they will still like us after the weekend no matter what happens. At least we have our own houses.

Our friends are British. They've already taught lots of new "British" words. Did you know a band aid is a "plaster"? Or that instead of four thirty they say "half four"? I always knew that "queue" was a line but I never knew how to pronounce it (just like the letter, "Q") My favorite one that I've recently learned is that if something is going badly, it is going "pear-shaped" as in "this afternoon's gone pear-shaped on me". Isn't that so descriptive?

Anyway, I'll be sure to catch you all up on Monday when we get back.

What would a Brit say for goodbye? Toodles? Ta-ta for now?