Saturday, January 30, 2010

Beach Wares

Christmas through Carnaval is prime beach time here in Brazil. If the sun's out, the beach is packed. And not American standard packed, we're talking sardine packed (just see my header photo above to see what I'm talking about). No space between you and your friendly beach neighbors. I don't particularly enjoy going to the beach when it's like that, but Guapo loves it so we usually humor him on Saturdays.

I can't stress enough how important the beach is to the culture here in Ri0. The beach is for all- the old and young, beautiful and not-so attractive, skinny and fat, black and white, rich and poor. So, I'm going to take my camera the next few Saturdays and do a few posts about the beach.

Today's topic: all the stuff that's sold on the beach. It's different that other places we've lived because vendors aren't perceived as a total annoyance or security hazard. Here they are a vital part of the beach experience. Someone pauses in front of your spot probably once every 2-3 minutes. It sounds annoying, but you actually get used to it. They don't hang around (except for the ice-cream guys, see below); for the most part, as soon as you say "no thank you" they head on their merry way.

You could basically go to the beach buck-necked with some money and be totally set up within a matter of minutes. You can buy:

Bathing suits (just bikinis and speedos of course):





Obnoxious hair accessories:


Beach and soccer balls:

Matte (like iced tea):

Other various drinks:

Hot dogs and kites (different vendors, same picture): Look at the hot dog guy's cute little display box. There are lots of different foods for sale. I didn't have a chance to take pictures of the watermelon, empadas, shrimp kabob, cashew or cheese sellers. You'll just have to take my word for it. :)

Ice Cream: these guys stick their menus right in the kids' faces and hang around long after you've said "no thank you" waiting for the kids to wear their parents down. I've taught my kids not to even look at their signs (ice cream on the beach costs 3X as much as it does anywhere else)

Cotton Candy:

Here's one of Pedro. (I had to take a few shots of my kids because I'm pretty sure my beach neighbors thought I was kind of a freak with my camera.)

Not an easy job, I'd say, being a beach vendor; out there in the blistering heat all day, walking in the hot sand for what's probably very little money. And, for the most part they are very friendly and courteous. And they don't even try to rip us off just for being gringos (well, most of the time).

So now you know about that.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Clubbing in First Grade

Juan Carlos, my 6 year old 1st grader, was invited to a birthday party Friday night that starts at 8:30 pm. Since the standard length for a birthday party here is 4 hours, we can assume that it will get over at 12:30 am.

His mom just called me to explain why it starts so late-because her daughter wants music and dancing-"you know, like a club".

Ummm, I 'm pretty sure he's busy that night (sleeping), but best of luck with your daughter!

Monday, January 25, 2010

The End of an Era

We put away Pedro's crib over the weekend. Here's the last picture ever of him in his crib that once belonged to his Uncle Matty (Guapo's brother and husband of my awesome SIL, Abby, who has big plans for her future, BTW. The crib's all yours Abby, rust and all):


No more diapers, no more cribs. At least in the foreseeable future (don't roll your eyes at me, Guapo).

He's a big boy now at almost 3 years old and he and Juan Carlos (6 yrs) are going to share a room while Julio (9 yrs) is going to enjoy a little of being on his own. The maiden voyage didn't go so well last night-we still aren't back to normal time wise. Pedro kept poor Juan Carlos up past 11:30 and he had school this morning poor kid.

Which leads me to another sad loss...much more tragic than either The Crib or The Diapers...

The Nap.

Can I still make him take a nap? Technically, yes. But, it's not a pretty process. It usually involves me falling deep asleep (read: my mouth open with drool on the pillow) while he gleefully wreaks havoc on the room and then me coming to, realizing what's happened (again), and then wrestling him down until he finally gives up the fight.

But then he won't sleep at night until really, really late. Much later than I care to stay up with him.

Sad, huh? Oh well.

On the bright side he's super cute again, after going through a bit of a tough spell before Christmas (lots of hitting, a fair amount of kicking, plenty of screaming, and even a little experimentation with biting. Ouch). He's quite pleasant now, comparatively speaking. His latest thing is that he wants me to carry him a lot (I remember my other boys going through this same phase at the this age) and he'll say, "Mom, can you carry me? I'm really busy." Today he changed it to "dizzy" but either way, it's totally cute.

And, he's going to start morning preschool in the next couple of weeks. I feel guilty about sending my kids to preschool so early (not guilty enough not to do it, but still), but everyone here (and all the other places we've lived abroad) puts their kids in "school" (um, can you say "daycare"?) at 18 months so I feel like an over-achiever for keeping them home until they're 3. But, because of this, Pedro hasn't had any friends outside of his siblings ever. I think he needs that now. We're getting quite bored with each other. So, that will be good-I think he'll enjoy it a lot.

Whatever will I do with my 3 kid-free hours a day?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Home Again, Home Again

We arrived safely in Brazil after appoximately 17 hours and 15 minutes of travel. Despite some serious freaking out beforehand, which has earned me a lovely cold sore, it was proably the easiest trip to or from Brazil that I've had (with the obvious exception of the time Guapo got upgraded on the Rio-Houston leg and gave it to me). As the long flight was not full we got spread out a bit which was nice and the kids were GREAT! Way less annoying that the three talking ladies that sat behind us and kept their lights on half the night for no apparent reason (grrrr).

Jet lag's great. I was up with various wide-eyed kids until 3:30 am last night and then peeled myself out of bed at 12:30 this afternoon. It's 9:30 here now and no one appears to be tired-I think every one's going to be drugged tonight to help speed up the readjustment process.

And the heat-oh my goodness. It was 98 in the shade when we arrived yesterday in our sweatpants and long-sleeved t-shirts. Today I took the kids swimming to try to cool down and the water must have been close to 90 degrees. No relief in sight.

Other than being really hot, and tired or wide awake and the wrong times, everything's normal. Our bedroom now has a HUGE leak right above our TV. See? Totally normal.

It's good to be back.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

What I'll Miss

Well, it's that time again. Time to back up the bags (a serious undertaking) and head down south for the next 5 months give or take a day or two.

So, here's what I'll miss, and what I'm looking forward to in Brazil (in no particular order. Well, except for the part about Gaupo :) ).

What I'll Miss:

-Redbox (how cool is Redbox?)

-Not shaving my legs

-Running in cool weather (despite the fact that it didn't happen nearly often enough)

-Sleeping in (we've been getting up around 9:30 am everyday, which is 2:30 pm in Rio. Could be a rough adjustment.)

-Good ice cream

-My Mommy

-Not having a maid

-Being around family


-My latest fashion faux-pas:

Furry Crocs. Most comfortable thing EV-ER.

-Dressing like a slob and fitting in just fine (as opposed to dressing like a slob and feeling like a dork in Brazil)

-Amazon (how will the UPS guy survive without his daily trip to my parents' house?)


-Church in English

-Church at the correct temperature (our chapel in Rio is the only one without AC and the temp has been over 100)

-Feeling relatively safe all of the time

-Doing a load of laundry in less than 4 hours

-The snow


-Getting wrapped up in a super soft blanket at night to read

What I'm looking forward to:

-Seeing Gaupo

-My skin not looking like leather because of the cold, dry air

-My kids going back to school and Pedro starting preschool in February

-Wearing flip-flops 90% of the time

-Having full use of my iPhone

-Playing tennis (if my elbow ever heals)

-Hanging out with Ballerina Girl

-Not packing up and moving 5 or 6 people every week

-Not having to wear panty hose to church

-Having a maid

-Drinking Guarana (Brazilian Soda)

-Eating the wonderful fresh fruits

-Not being a single parent

-More blogging (I promise!)

-Taking the kids swimming

-Seeing Ron and Kitty

-Running on the beach

We had a memorable vacation and ejoyed spending time with almost all of our family. I can't believe it's already time to go back.

Wish me luck tomorrow. I can think of about 1,000,001 things I'd rather do than travel by myself with the kids for 20 hours.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

I'm on a Blogcation (In Case You Didn't Notice)

I'm taking a little break from my blog lately. There's just not a lot going on that hasn't gone on during other trips home. Lots of:

-Milk drinking
-Infinite cereal choices (somedays I have to have 3 bowls)
-Trips to Target
-Egg McMuffins
-Drinking water right from the tap

I don't want to bore you with the details.

My trip home in 9 days with the four kids, without Guapo or any other adult help, on a flight from Houston that rarely leaves on the right day let alone on time, is looming large. I'm not looking forward to that.

Other than that, it's all good.