Sunday, December 27, 2009

Second Annual Christmas Eve Drama

Last Christmas Eve, if you remember, we thought Julio and Juan Carlos, then 8 and 5 years old, had been abducted for what were the longest 90 minutes of my life. Only after the local police were involved did we find them in a neighbor's basement, playing video games, totally clueless that they had all of us sick with fear.

This year's Christmas Eve drama involved my parents. They were headed up to our house in the mountains, their car loaded to the brim with presents and food. Along with our Santa Watch on Google Earth, we were also keeping a "Grandma Watch" via telephone to know how long before they arrived. My mom and I were calling back and forth, planning all the ways we could terrorize our Steeler-loving neighbors who have a real talent for blocking the entire driveway so no one can come or go.

A few minutes before they were to arrive, my mom called hyperventilating and crying; all I could make out was, "...we went off the road...send Guapo...police on their way..."

Not a good feeling.

I yelled at Guapo to go find them, and then I went and really yelled at the neighbors, whose cars were, once again, blocking us in. So annoying. Anyway, Guapo left and after a few minutes I tried to call him to see if he had found them yet, only to hear his phone ringing inside the house. Uggh!

After what seemed like forever, they finally made it up to our house and everyone was, amazingly, in one piece. They had in hand the two extension cords we had asked them to pick up on their way up so we could plug in our fondue pots-my dad had climbed back down to the car to retrieve them- how sweet (and totally unnecessary) is that?

We got bundled up and headed 2 miles down the mountain to the scene of the accident because we had to unload all the gifts (I didn't really think this was too important at this point, but my parents insisted). These pictures don't do justice to how scary it actually looked:

It was very steep where they went off. Luckily, they went straight down and some big rocks slowed the car to a halt; had they gone down sideways, they most likely would have rolled the car and things probably wouldn't have ended so happily.

The second picture shows our 4 person chain we used to get the gifts up to the top (all while it was below zero outside).

Here are a couple of pictures in daylight, to gives you a little better idea of how steep it was.

We were "lucky" once again and were able to sit down for our traditional Christmas Eve fondue dinner (extension cords and all) together as a family (albeit with red, puffy eyes). It's funny how the gifts just don't seem as important after an experience like that, I was just happy to have my parents there with us on Christmas day. In case you haven't ever gotten it from my blog, I love my parents so much, and thinking about life without them is not something that I want to do at this point in my life.

I hope you all had a wonderful day with your loved ones.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas Photo Post

Picking the tree:

The final product:

Festive Moses:

Our naughty neighbors whom Santa surely won't be visiting:

Snow, finally:

The temp outside right now:

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Ugly Face of Jet Lag

We made it. We had a very tight connection in Houston; we, along with Ballerina Girl's family, were literally running through the airport, but we made it. It was one of the better trips we've had-the kids slept most of the long flight and I flew first class on the short flight-so I don't have a lot to complain about.

As world travelers, we pride ourselves on quickly adjusting to jet lag. Our strategy? Staying very active our first day of arrival no matter how crappy we feel. Remember last summer? We bought a car, went to Target twice and got everyone a haircut. Summer's a little easier though because it's only a 3 hour time difference and during the winter it's 5 hours.

Anyway, Friday night, after a very busy day including a child's size root canal for poor Juan Carlos, my dad offered us tickets to a lacrosse game at the Pepsi Center; even though the starting time was 8 pm local time, 1 am Brazil time, we accepted. At first things were going fine,

Everyone was awake and having fun. Pedro was particularly revved up-hopping around the box like we'd given him a hit of Red Bu11.

And then, they started dropping like flies:

Here are Julio and Juan Carlos shortly after arriving in the mountains yesterday:

And I'm sad to report, the kids are dealing with the jet lag better than I am. I can manage alright for a while and then I'm just exhausted and MUST sleep.

But, we're up in the mountains now, having a great time. It just started snowing and we are all loving it. Tomorrow I'll post our lovely Christmas tree.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

We Are Outta Here

After a week of intensive Christmas preparations and packing, we are leaving for the States. In just 20 short hours of travel we should be arriving at my parents house.

Please wish us luck as Pedro has not proven himself to been travel-worthy the last few weeks.

I am scared.

The good news is that we are traveling with Ballerina Girl's family-so that will be a fun diversion. If Pedro get's too out of hand, he'll get to go visit Auntie Ballerina Girl (he he). And, Guapo got bumped up on the Houston-Denver portion of our trip and because he's such a nice guy, I'll at least get to travel in style (and peace) for the last couple of hours. At least there's that to look forward to.

Until tomorrow!

Monday, December 14, 2009

My Mom Is Bossing Me Around Like I'm 12

So my mom didn't like my sunbathing Santa header. You know, this one:

She's been calling me for days, begging me to change it. She's even sent me possible replacement photos. He grosses her out for some reason. Poor Santa. So, to get her off my back, I've changed to the Christmas tree on the Lagoa out in front of our house. Supposedly it is the largest floating Christmas tree in the world and who am I to doubt that? I've never even seen another floating Christmas tree before. We have a perfect view of it- Margarita lays in bed at night and looks right out at the beautiful tree.

I love Christmas, but man, it's a lot of work. I was thinking last night I need to hire a Christmas Coordinator, something akin to a wedding planner, to help me make it through the season. I'm not begrudging Christmas, I love this time of year more than any other; I love giving gifts and making cookies, listening to Christmas music, watching Christmas movies, traveling home to see loved ones. This year my lists just seem so long-maybe it's living here? I've got to prepare gifts for the maid, her sons, the driver, the guards of the building, the tennis teachers, the piano teacher, the regular teachers, assorted friends and colleagues. And then there're all the people in the States that we will be seeing this year that I need to buy for. I've got a spreadsheet going to help me keep track of all the gifts.

I'm about to start handing out "A donation has been made in your behalf to the Human Fund" cards.

Is there this much gift giving going on in the States?

I think I'm ALMOST done. A few more little things here and there. We leave on Thursday (yay!) and I want to have it all done by then so I can just relax and enjoy our vacation.

So, just a few random Christmas things:

Music Presentation

The music teacher combined the music presentations this year, so I only had to go to one (last year I had three different presentations on three different days). My boys only tolerate these presentations. About a week before they start mumbling about being sick and the day of it's like pulling teeth getting them up and dressed. Then they stand there and move their lips and kind of sway as the other kids belt it out and do their dance moves.

They definitely weren't having as much fun as this guy:

Finally, A Good Gift

At our book club Christmas party each year, we do one of those stealing present games. I have not had much success, until this year.

The first year was a disaster. If you remember, I held in my had a bag full of wonderful American goodies only to have it stolen from me from some mean lady who is no longer apart of book club. Good riddance. (I'm just joking people. Well, mostly)

I was left with these very bright Unicef place mats (that I later re-gifted to my Mom).

Last year wasn't as traumatic, but this was my gift, a little wood thing to hang in the kitchen (it now hangs in the kitchen of my maid, if she didn't re-gift it, that is):

But this year, I won't be re-gifting my gift. I scored this cute bracelet:

And while I'm taking pictures of myself, do you want to see my tennis tan? Despite using 50 SPF sports sunscreen (i.e. sweat proof), look at my arm:

I would expect the top of my arm to be tanned, but check out the bottom:

I must have some awesome moves to be getting that much sun on that part of my arm.

Looks like I need to reapply more often.

Did I mention we're going to freeze our fannies off in Colorado and Utah?

Christmas Magic

I was in the mall last week with Julio (9 yrs old) and I as we passed the Santa who was sitting there without any children on his lap, I teased him about going and telling Santa what he wants for Christmas. He said to me in his, "mom, I'm too old for that kind of stuff" voice, "Mom, I know how things work." My heart sank a little and then he said, "I know that's just a guy in a suit, the real Santa doesn't go to malls." (...and my heart rises back to it's normal position)

Hope you're all enjoying the season!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

One Deranged Fish, One Defamed Cat

I just wanted to clear Kitty's name.

Pumpkin jumped. Kitty actually saved his life by being on the scene last night-otherwise we never would have seen Pumpkin laying there looking like a little red grape (which are often found on my kitchen floor).

How do I know this?

Last night, I put Pumpkin on top of the refrigerator, a place where Kitty for sure couldn't reach. This morning, I went downstairs to see if Pumpkin was still alive; he was swimming around as good as new. I woke up Juan Carlos a few minutes later to tell him the good news. When we went into the kitchen, the bowl was empty, and there was Pumpkin, looking like a grape again on the floor.

I think it's a cry for help-had he really wanted to commit suicide he would have jumped during the middle of the night-he waited until he knew we were up.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

A Quick Break From The Madness

I don't know what it is about going home, but as the date approaches I turn into my most obsessive self. Whereas I thought that while Guapo was traveling, I'd be leisurely blogging and whatnot, instead I've inundated myself in a slew of new projects. For example, this morning I spent almost two hours going through all of our medicines, throwing away everything that was expired and then separating them into gallon Ziploc bags according to their category. Why?????

And tonight I'm working on a few *meaningful* Christmas gifts that I can't really talk about because those who are receiving them may be reading this (and if they're not, they don't deserve the gifts!). We're talking some time consuming projects.

I had to take a quick break though and write about my sweet Juan Carlos (6 years old) tonight.

He won a beta fish at the school Halloween party (don't you love it when live animals are the prizes? yeah, me too). Anyway, he's been taking very good care of "Pumpkin" ever since; tonight Kitty somehow got Pumpkin out of his bowl (how I'll never know), and we found him on the floor in a little ball with Kitty looming largely over him. (Why do these things always happen when Guapo's out of town?)

Juan Carlos immediately broke down; I got him out of the room and called Julio to "take care" of the fish (i.e. put it in the toilet). Julio instead put Pumpkin in his bowl and he started to swim. Juan Carlos was relieved but I tried to explain to him that the fish was probably in shock and still might die.

And this is what got me, and why I had to blog tonight, he said, through his tears, "I want to take a picture with Pumpkin before he dies."

How sweet is that? Sometimes I just love my kids so much it makes me want to cry.

So, we had a little photo shoot; if I had time, I'd download them. But I don't, so just imagine a sweet, blond boy with red, swollen eyes trying to smile as he holds up his injured little fish.

I hope Pumpkin makes it through the night-it's been over an hour now and he's still swimming around, so I think it's possible.

And now, back to my projects.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Random Catch-Up Post

Where to begin?

December's here and things are crazy, as things tend to be in December. We leave two weeks from this very moment (yay!). I apologize for not only being a bad blogger, but also being a bad blogger friend.

Guapo's traveling the whole next week, so I'll be free to spend guilt-free time on the Internet at night.

But, for the time being a quick review of recent happenings.

Who Will Be My Next Top-Babysitter?

Ok, how weird is this?

This year's winner of America's next t0p model is a girl who lives three doors down from my parents house and who sometimes babysits my kids when we're there. I'm not a fan of most reality shows, so my mom had to keep me updated. Not that she watches America's Next T0p Model or anything (no offense if you love the show), she just hears the occasional neighborhood gossip.

She called last week and told me I'd better find a new babysitter because she probably won't be needing the money anymore. (and since young girls + money + fame doesn't often yield great results, I probably will want to find someone a little less famous)

Her little sister and Margarita always play together when we're in Colorado. It's pretty funny, because her sister is a total tomboy and has inspired many of Margarita's *interesting* fashion choices (black socks, plaid shorts, converse sneakers).

Thanksgiving Success

Not only did I bring Thanksgiving cheer to Julio's 3rd grade class, I spent 7 hours in a un-air-conditioned kitchen on a 90 degree day making my first-ever solo Thanksgiving meal. It all turned out very nicely, including the homemade rolls and pumpkin pie. I kind of feel like a grown up now.

(don't mind my funky hair and my wet shirt. I'm pretty sure that it's dishwater and not sweat, but I'm not entirely sure, probably a mixture)

Some special Thanksgiving art:

My Niece (and her mom and dad) Came for a Visit

Isn't she cute? And such a good baby. Almost makes me want to have another...almost. (the little guy there on the left does a pretty good job at outweighing baby cuteness most of the time. This photo is deceiving.)

Piano Recital

I had my second adult piano recital on Saturday night. It was held at the apartment of the older lady I mentioned after my last recital. She had invited 20+ of her closest friends including her entire computer class and some guy she had met in the line at the bank 2 days earlier (not joking). I walked in and saw all of those people cramped into a little apartment and I just about turned right around and walked back out.

But, I did ok despite my visibly trembling fingers. I made it through both my songs with minor errors and what was good was that I kept going on when I messed up which I normally have trouble with. I played "Old French Song" by Tchaikovsky and "Fur Elise" by Beethoven (the entire thing, thank you very much).

Now I'm recital-free until at least April or May.


Despite my awesome new tennis outfit, I got smoked by a 60+ year old lady on Tuesday. Pretty depressing.

I guess I'd better stick to 12 year old boys.

I've got lots of random Christmas tidbits too, but I'd better save those for my next post.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Take That Holiday Haters!

After the disappointing Halloween at the school, where they supposedly weren't allowed to decorate the classroom due to one child who doesn't celebrate any holidays (not even his birthday), I had a chat with the principal. She assured me that the holidays would not be diminished, decorations could be used in the classroom (that it was the teacher's decision not to decorate, making me wonder who's telling me the whole story), blah, blah, blah.

So, to insure that that was, in fact, the case, I got right on Oriental Traders and ordered some festive Thanksgiving projects

Today I went to school to spread some Thanksgiving cheer. We made these cute little trees with individual leaves on which they wrote the things for which they are grateful for. It was fun and easy, I recommend it if you're looking for a Thanksgiving activity next year (but I would staple the leaves on instead of gluing, as that didn't work very well).

Here's the group with their trees:

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. :)

Monday, November 23, 2009


What do you do with your old Christmas cards people send you with photos? I hate throwing them away, but I've got quite a stack here and I'm in one of my organizing moods.

Any creative suggestions, or do I just shred them?

Friday, November 20, 2009

And We Have a Winner.

The good news is: I'm happy to report that the work on the house was (supposedly) finished yesterday. November 19th. This, of course, makes me look like a liar since I was sure it would take at least twice as long as the estimate predicted. They are out of my house and I am thrilled to have them gone.

Our winner is: my good (and very optimistic, guessing November 18) friend Lizzy Lou, who used to live here but who now lives in China. So, Lizzy, email me to let me know how to get your Havaianas to you (and size and preferred color scheme :) ). And since you probably already have lots of flip-flops, if there is something else you would prefer-either from here or from the States, just let me know.

The bad news is: They are *done*, but I'm pretty sure they didn't do what we paid them to do (fix the leaks). I think we just got a really expensive paint job. Even so, they were out of here in 20 working days which is a miracle.

This was due to several factors:

1) My maid was on them like white on rice. You don't want to mess with her-she's not afraid of confrontation like I am. She had no qualms about yelling at them when they were just chilling up on the deck instead of working (which happened frequently), or when they arrived late (again, happened very frequently). So she was the bad cop and I was the good cop which I prefer to be.

2) I told them (in one of my more assertive interactions with them) that if they didn't finish this week, they would have to clean up their mess and stop what they were doing for the next ten days as my sister, her husband and baby arrive here on Monday for a visit. They didn't really like that idea (and I'm sure their boss didn't either).

3) I think they knew they didn't fix the leaks and so they wanted to high tail it out of here before the next big rain hits, ruining their paint job and taking them back to square 1.

So. New contest. How long until the ceiling falls in again? Maybe I'm being pessimistic and it will remain solid until we leave here, but I have a feeling the next big rain storm hits and it's coming down again.

Any guesses? You too, like Lizzy, could be the proud owner of a new pair of flip-flops. :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I Heart Electricity and Other Happenings

I know you're getting sick of hearing about our little renovation project-but it is the center of my life right now. I'm going to try to forget about that for a few minutes to fill you in on what else is happening around here right now. But just real quick, I have to tell you, these guys, on their own, without consulting us, painted our living room a different color. Did we even want our living room painted? No, they were just repairing a small hole in the ceiling-we just wanted that touched up after they repaired it.

Somehow (basically the paint didn't match, surprise, surprise! since they never asked us what paint we used but instead just went out and bought some on their own) it turned into painting the whole dang room white (before it was beige on the walls and white on the ceiling). You'd think they were being paid by the hour, but they're NOT. I seriously don't know what's wrong with them. (oh, and the house is still leaking like a sieve, so I'm not sure what good all this painting's going to do.)

ANYWAY, on to other things...

In the Dark

Did you here about this? Most of the big cities of Brazil lost power last Wednesday night, along with a good portion of Paraguay. You never realize how much you depend on electricity until it's gone.

It went out around 10:30 just as Guapo and I were headed to bed. Within less than 5 minutes all 4 kids were in our room. Pedro was crying over and over, "something happened, something happened". We are totally dependent on our window AC units not just for their cooling, but also to block out the noises of cramped city life. I don't know if it's all the concrete, or how close the buildings are together here, or what, but I could hear people coughing, sneezing, and talking as if the were in the room next door.

The kids have had fun imitating a conversation they heard:

Guy 1: "É quente demais" (It's too hot)

Guy 2: "É" (yeah)

Guy 1: "Vôce tem uma lanterna?" (do you have a flashlight?)

Guy 2: "Não tehno não" (nope, I don't)

Guy 3: "Puxa vida" (piece of crap) (my own translation-my iPhone translator app said it means "Oh boy", but the way the guy said it sounded a lot more like, "piece of crap" to me.)

I lay on top of my covers with sweat dripping off me (did I mention we've been having a heat wave here?) NOT sleeping for 3 hours worrying about how long it would take for the entire house to reek since we couldn't flush the toilet (our water up to our apartment via electrical pump) and I wouldn't want to waste our drinking water flushing potties.

But, thankfully, the lights came on again just before 1:00 am and I could finally go to sleep (only after flusging the toilet, of course).

My Latest Food Obsession

Homemade spring rolls:

Impressive, eh? I'm pretty impressed with myself.

Staring Julio

Julio's third grade play, "Chocolate Fever" is this week. He's got 5 different performances. He plays Mac, the truck driver.

Does he look redneck enough? The mullet with the backwards baseball cap? The "Don't Mess With Texas" t-shirt with the sleeves cut off? I think so.

It's Official- I Play Tennis

You should all be proud-I am actually playing tennis now- I know how to score and everything, well, mostly, I'm still not sure about game/matches, match/games and if there is a tie-breaker (game? match?) I still am lost as to who serves and on which side, but as long as I have a good partner, it all works out.

Here's my proof that I'm a real tennis player now, and not just a PLT (perpetual lesson taker):

(photo courtesy of Ballerina Girl who is currently sidelined with her own tennis injury)

I have an honest-to-goodness case of tennis elbow and must wear that do-dad so it doesn't get worse.

Cool, huh?

Margarita's Gone

Margarita left this morning for her 4 day field trip in northern Brazil. I miss her. :(

The only good thing about her leaving is that I have 4 days to sort out all the stuff in her room and ORGANIZE without her here to prevent me from doing so. Oh how I love a good organizing project.

That's it!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Before and After

Juan Carlos' and Julio's ceiling BEFORE:

And, now, Juan Carlos' and Julio's ceiling AFTER two weeks of annoying men in my house working for 5 to 8 hour days:

Drum Roll,Please...


What's sadly missing is a "during" photo that would have shown the ceiling in near perfect condition. Remember how I mentioned that it seemed wrong that they were starting fixing the walls first, before tackling the source of the problem? Well, they worked and worked, removed the old paint and plaster,re-plastered, lovingly sanded it down to smooth perfection and were just about ready to paint the thing and call it done when it all came tumbling down AGAIN.

When Guapo stayed home from work to basically say, "I told you so," their reply was, "Well, we didn't know about that problem"


Someday I'll laugh about this right? Just probably not today (at least not without some sort of mood altering drug)...

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

How I Lost My Groove

...having somewhere between 2 to 4 men in my house daily arriving between the hours of 8:00 am (when they should be showing up) and 10:00 (when they usually end up showing up) and leaving between 4 pm and 6 pm.

They seem to always be where I want to be and I'm getting nothing done-no piano practice, no emails, no blogging. :( I am getting good at getting out of my house whenever I can. Luckily, the weather's been nice.

The whole thing's just frustrating. They're always showing up late or can't work because they have to "buy materials". Ugh. Not to mention that they are starting with the inside problems instead of the outside problems (despite the sunny weather), so, if it rains anytime soon (you can pretty much bet on it) it's going to be messed up again. But, what do I know? I'm just a stupid gringa.

Anyway, I'm still here, but barely. I've been playing a lot of tennis and doing a lot of field trips with Pedro. Here're a few random things that are going on:

Adventures in Potty Training

I would say Pedro's graduated from Potty Training 101; I don't have to ask him every 3 1/2 minutes if he has to go, he just tells me now. I can take him out without worrying about it and I don't even have to lug the baseball potty around any more, he'll accept his little seat you put on top of a regular toilet now or even just have me support him. He hasn't had an accident in a long time and he's almost always dry in the morning now. He even wakes up in the middle of the night to pee (that's fun for me). A couple of funny potty training things I want to remember:

1) The George Costanza Phase. Pedro wants to be buck neked when he goes to the bathroom. I try to discourage this practice as it lengthens the whole process. (remember that episode where George strips down to go?)

2) Pedro's Amazing Control. He is able to save up his #2 until nap time and bedtime and then, just as I'm leaving the room it's, "I've got to go, I've got to go." (kind of hard to say no to) He then proceeds to release rabbit size droppings for the next half hour while I go nuts waiting for him to finish. "I'm almost done mom," he tells me over and over. I've started setting the stop watch on my watch and I tell him when it rings, he's done.

Trying to Save The Holidays

Julio's got a kid in his class that doesn't celebrate any-thing. So, I discovered the day before Halloween that his class wasn't allowed to decorate for Halloween because of him. I Was.Not.Happy. They had a one hour Halloween activity (while the kid left the room) and then Halloween was OVER-not to be mentioned again. This is a private, American, international school with people from all over the world, all with different customs and religions, and why an exception is being made for one out of 24 students and ruining my kid's fun and American traditions that I work hard to preserve, I don't understand.

If you're against your child even seeing decorations of any kind or being educated about other people's cultures and traditions, then

I'm very grouchy about it, in case you couldn't tell. So, tomorrow I have a meeting with the principal to discuss. And, I've already ordered not one but two Thanksgiving projects to do with Julio's class.

What else? Well, speaking of Halloween, here's my crew, all dressed up before the school Halloween party (at least that wasn't canceled).

They all loved their costumes. Halloween's so fun.

I guess that's about it. Hope you're all having a great week.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Blog Contest: When Will the Workers Leave?

You're not going to believe it, but work began on our apartment yesterday (October 28), only a month and 6 days after I first posted about it.

They were supposed to start Monday, but they didn't have any materials. All I've seen them use the last two days are little scrapers to remove paint off the wall. But, apparently they didn't have those on Monday.

Then they were going to start Tuesday but it was cloudy. (Yes, cloudy.) They said it might rain. There are 3 stories of problems in this apartment, only one story of which would be affected by rain.

Tuesday afternoon Guapo called and fired them. After many apologies and pledges that they would get their act together, they showed up on Wednesday (at 10:30). Gaupo told them they have one more chance and then they are gone, no matter what condition the house is in.

The contract says 20 working days until they're done.

If you would like to participate please tell me the date you think the workers will actually be finished. I should mention that there are two national holidays in Brazil in November (well, actually 3, but one falls on a Sunday this year).

I will send a pair of Brazil's famous flip-flops, Havaianas, to the person who is closest.

(Unless you're Ballerina Girl, in which case I'll have Guapo bring you back some toilet paper from his December trip to the States. :) )

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Expat Friendship

Having been the recipient of a couple of kind acts of service this week, I've been thinking about how expat friends demonstrate their friendship to one another.

It's different than in the States. When I lived in the States, opportunities were plentiful to help other young moms like myself. Sick? I'll bring over dinner. Jury duty? Let me take your kids for the day. Super busy? Let me give your boys a ride to cub scouts. Critical in-laws coming for a visit? I'll come help you clean your house.

These types of activities in expat life (at least in Central/South American expat life) are all covered by the "staff".

Food? Check (maid)

Childcare? Check (maid)

Errands? Child pick-up? Check (driver)

Obsessive Cleaning? Check (maid)

Of course I'm generalizing and exaggerating a bit; there are occasionally times to offer such services, but it is infrequent.

Then there are those times when "the staff" is sick (heaven forbid) and what usually ends up happening is that we offer up our "staff" in lieu of ourselves. "Sure, Sergio the Driver can pick up your kids" or "Do you need my maid for the day?" And we actually feel like we're sacrificing for our friends. Humorous and a little sad, I know.

So, how do expat friends show their love to one another?

The first way is by letting our friends vent. The majority of Ballerina Girl's and my conversations are about:

1) maid problems
2) house/appliance problems
3) school problems
4) Brazil problems

(not necessarily in that order)

Because we have similar circumstances, she , better than anyone else really gets what I'm going through. Sure, I occasionally vent here on my blog about stuff, but if I did it as much as I do in real life, you'd all think I'm a brat (which of course I'm not, but it may come across like that).

The second way is by sharing our American products. The things we bring back from the States are like GOLD and sharing them is a true act of sacrifice. I have to really like someone to share my goods with them.

This week one of my friends randomly brought me over not just one, but two bags of Reese's mix candies and a tube of Neosporin. She told me they were "extra" and would we want them? (yes please!) Nothing's "extra" around here (especially candy the week of Halloween)-there's no Target, so once you run out, you're out of luck until your next trip or your next group of visitors arrive.

It really meant a lot to me (way more than a tube of antibiotic cream would mean to me in the States :) ).

The third way is by offering suitcase space.

Suitcase space, like American products are precious in the life of an expat. We all know exactly how many bags and how much poundage we can bring in per trip. (If we travel as an entire family, we can bring in 12 bags containing 840 pounds, not including our carry-ons. If one of us flys first class we can increase that to 13 bags and 910 pounds.)

You have to be really careful offering up limited suitcase space to bring back something for a friend. You really have to trust that the person is not going to take advantage of you and have 15 Amazon boxes delivered to your house (or one of your relative's homes).

Ballerina Girl is traveling this week in the States. She emailed me and offered to bring me back whatever I needed (she knows I wouldn't take advantage). She has two kids here of her own and things she needs (she always brings in toilet paper which totally cracks me up) and for her to offer me some space in her suitcase made me feel loved :). (I ordered a book for the boys, a blueberry muffin mix and some Laffy Taffy)

I am blessed with good friends here for which I am thankful.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Deep Breath...Deep Breath

Just a little post to enumerate the reasons why this day has been totally annoying.

1) I spent 3 hours this morning searching a number of stores for the one type of nasty long-life milk that my family will actually drink, with no success. This is not an uncommon type of milk, it's just that apparently NO ONE has it right now.

2) The company that's going to fix the leakage problems finally gave the estimate and was going to stop by Thursday to see what materials they needed so they could start Thursday. They didn't show up Wednesday. Of course they didn't call or anything to let us know they weren't coming or anything. They finally stopped by Thursday afternoon. But did they start today? No!They couldn't possibly start a job of Friday, that would be crazy! Oh, and now they are estimating 45 days instead of 15.

Who's surprised?

3) We're having Julio's birthday party tonight and my maid's two boys showed up this afternoon unannounced and uninvited. When I asked why the didn't have school she told me "oh, they're sick."

Do I need to elaborate, or can you feel my anger seething through cyberspace?

Trying to look on the bright side:

1) Pedro's been accident free for days.

2) I crushed a 12 year old boy at tennis today.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Oh the Places You'll Go, Baseball Potty

My mom's visit is sadly drawing to a close. We've had such a nice visit and it has helped me out so much to have her here, and not just in the potty training department. Gaupo had some issues with his back last week that left him immobilized for several days and it just so happens that the kids also had the week off school- so had my mom not been here I for sure would have gone crazy trying to take care of him and amuse 4 kids in an apartment.

At least half of the "Hey Mom-watch this!" were converted into "Hey Grandma, watch this!" which was key in keeping my sanity.

But, let's be honest here, when you're potty training, life is all about potty training for a time (how long that time is depends on the kid). My mom selflessly went through the very demanding first week with me, keeping me enthusiastic about it when at times I felt like throwing in the towel.

And another special thanks to Margarita, she has done way more potty training with Pedro this week than I have. She has spent a lot of time sitting close to him while he's doing his business, reading books or playing airplanes. Once again, she has amazed me with her goodness. :)

So, let's have a look at some of our activities during the past week keeping in mind that potty training is an all-consuming task:

We visited the zoo

I wanted to put Pedro in a diaper so we could actually enjoy the zoo, but my mom insisted that he not be confused by wearing a diaper again. She even volunteered to carry his bulky baseball potty around the zoo with us.

It paid off, he was accident free (although he doesn't look to happy about being out in the open with me taking his photo, does he?).

The zoo here has your basic elephants, giraffes, lions, tigers, bears etc. but it is also LOADED with Brazilian monkeys. Here are a couple of my favorites:

Here my mom is with the kids, all very interested in a much less exotic animal: your garden variety stray cat.

We visited the jungle

There's a cool place near us called Parque Lage that used to be a coffee plantation and now it's a jungle-y park you can walk through. It has a cave the kids can explore and a waterfall you can climb up. We actually had never been until Guapo's brother and his wife came for a visit in May and now we go all the time.

Here's the cave:

Here are some cool frogs the kids caught:

Here are some hungry monkeys (finally, on her third trip down here, my mom got to see monkeys in the wild. I'm always talking about them and then when I take her to places where I see monkeys without fail, there are none to be found.)

And here's Pedro on his baseball potty:

My mom loves this picture because she thinks it looks like I'm praying that Pedro will hurry up and go.

Here's my mom, dutifully carrying the potty around again. It's got a flusher that makes a cheering sound every time it's touched in the slightest. Darn thing kept going off and driving us crazy.

We Went Biking

We went on a 45 minute bike ride around the lake and Pedro went in underwear and kept them dry.

Afterwards we all had a coconut and Pedro was able to hold it until we got home.

We Celebrated Julio's Birthday (Birthday Post Forthcoming, For Now It's All About the Potty)

Here's Pedro, enjoying Julio's birthday cake whilst upon the throne. I know, it's gross to eat on the pot, but it's even grosser to be cleaning up pee in the dining room while everyone else is eating cake.

When you gotta go, you gotta go.

We Went Swimming

Again, with the eating. I think it's a good technique-it seems to get things moving.

Ok, who's feeling sorry for Pedro here? None of my other kids have had their potty training chronicled for the world to see. I feel bad, but not bad enough not to post. I hope he forgives me. He's been a great little potty trainer. Very few accidents so far (and yes, he finally did go #2 on his potty. We left him alone in his room with lots of books and toys and it finally happened).

On Sunday, Margarita took him (and the baseball potty) out during Sacrament meeting to go to the bathroom. He came running back in a few minutes later and as he approached our bench bellowed out, "I POOHED. COME ON EVERYONE, COME AND SEE!" (he's become a little too accustomed to all of us encircling him and clapping when he "produces")We don't have a lot of English speakers at church so nobody found his outburst too amusing.

I owe all of this potty training joy to my mom; if it had been up to me, I probably would have waited until we got back from our Christmas trip at the end of January.

It does make me a little sad though-he's less and less of a baby every day.

Oh well, such is life.

Thanks for the fun visit and great memories mom, we love you!