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.