Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"T" Is for Toaster. And Toast.

I am not a pack rat. I am the opposite of a pack rat. I collect nothing. I don't feel an emotional attachment to most of my belongings*. If I haven't used something for a year (or oftentimes, just several months), I have no problem getting rid of it. In fact, I delight in it. When the world's got me down and I'm feeling blue or stressed, I find a closet or a cupboard to organize and it always soothes me to sort, organize, label, and get rid of unused items.

*There are a few exceptions to the rule:

1) my engagement and wedding rings
2) my iPhone and computer
3) Juan Carlos's blanket "Kiki" (I know this is strange, but it throws me into a an irrational tizzy if I think it's lost)
4) anything given to us as a wedding present (example: I still refuse to give away (or throw away, whose going to want it?) one very frayed towel)

We've had a sad loss in the family this week.

The toaster oven we received for our wedding almost 14 years ago from cousins in Iowa has stopped working. It has lived in 3 different states and 4 different countries with us. It has produced many perfectly toasted pieces of toast, some fine individual pizzas, crispy bagels, and so much more.

Here she (he?) is:

Look what the ocean air did to her (him?) in her (his?) final years of faithful service to the family:

It must have been a painful death.

May she (he?) rest in peace.

We must move on, and luckily, despite my strong desire to get rid of it, I held on to the toaster Guapo's company gave out to all the local employees here for Christmas last year (I'm sure it's just what everyone wanted):

Don't let the sleek stainless steel look fool you, this baby's made out of 100% cheap plastic. I amazed it doesn't melt as it toasts.

And here's the cheesiest part of this toasting bad boy:

A "T" for my husband's company.

I know you're all jealous.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Little Break from the Rat Race

I know, two trip posts in a row-how obnoxious and boring. But, at least I'm blogging, right?

We had a five day weekend (only in Brazil) last week and so we traveled with Ballerina Girl's and one other family to a sleepy little beach town an hour and a half out of the city. We rented a large 6 bedroom house where we could spread out and play. The house came with a cook, two maids and a "house boy", so we weren't exactly roughing it.

One of the things that I least like about where we live is the almost-suffocating-at-times apartment living. There's no, "GO PLAY IN THE BACKYARD RIGHT NOW BEFORE I LOSE IT!" when I'm feeling frustrated with the kids. Every place the kids spend time has walls and gates and locks so they have zero freedom to do much of anything on their own.

So, when we can get out of the city and let the kids run wild, it's a real treat for parents and kids alike.

And run they did; between the 3 families we have 9 kids who got along superbly well all weekend and NEVER even turned on a TV or a computer. Pretty amazing, I think.

We kept ourselves busy riding in our little boat:

climbing rocks (Margarita's favorite):

looking for ocean wildlife (Guapo's favorite):

playing on our (mostly) private beach (we had to scare one other family off the beach on Saturday, but other than that we were alone the entire time):

chitchating in whatever shade we could find (moms' favorite):

playing in the pool (pushing was outlawed about 30 seconds later when the first injury occured):

blowing bubbles for the bubble blowing contest (Julio was the winner):

playing game after game after game (bananagrams, backgammon, mancala, war, scum and several kid invented card games):

brushing up on our archery skills with dad:

eating, eating, eating; here's Ballerina Girl about to roast a marshmellow for smores (I know. You're wondering why such a pretty girl would wear such an ugly sweatshirt. I wonder that myself.)

and...enjoying the magnificent view from the deck:

We feel so blessed that we have friends here who are willing to travel with our big brood-it really takes a special kind of friendship to be able to spend 24 hours a day together for multiple days.

Sometimes our families aren't even willing to travel with us. :)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Trip to Sao Paulo

So, I'm doing something I never do and covering past events. A few weeks ago I traveled to Sao Paulo with Margarita and Julio for their regional Destination Imagination competition. Ballerina Girl and I traveled on the bus with the kids. It took 8 hours each way. Thank goodness for Dramamine- while BG used her time wisely and read three books during the combined 16 hours, I took a really, really long nap.

The cool thing about the trip was that I got to go and be supportive of my kids, but I wasn't in charge of them. Their team managers were. I didn't have to do anything-just say hi, give hugs when I saw them, and cheer a little here and there; I didn't have to wake them up, make sure they were in bed, make sure they were ready in the morning, make sure they were on the bus. It was someone else's responsibility.

It was absolutely delightful.

During our down time, which was quite frequent, BG and I were socially introverted, preferring to find a couch to curl up on and read our books (or Kindles, or iPhones) instead of chitchatting with the other temporarily irresponsible parents.

We did take a little time to be social and met with our fellow blogger Fabiola who lives in Sao Paulo. We had a delightful breakfast together in the hotel. She is just as cool in person as she is on her blog:

I realize that none of us are actually looking at the camera. Had I used the "good" one of me, BG never would have forgiven me. (that's the kind of sacrificing friend I am. :) )

My kids did great-they both won their challenges for their age divisions.

Here's Julio and his group performing their skit about a teacher who had a change of heart towards his students.

Julio even got to show off his Beethoven's 5th symphony (I swear I hear that song in my dreams). (and nightmares).

Margarita's group only had her and two other boys; there team name was the "DIlanders". It was supposed to be the "DIslanders", but the boy who made the sign spelled it wrong. Oh well, they still won.

Their group had to make a structure out of only newspaper and glue and then during their skit (about the earthquake in Haiti) they had to see how much weight it could hold. Below is Margarita adding the weights which was actually really exciting:

Here's the Rio group in front of a famous bridge in Sao Paulo (sorry, can't remember the name).

And, finally, here's Julio jumping on a trampoline at the big final DI party the night before we left:

It was a really fun trip!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Trapped in My Apartment with Three Hyper Boys and One Novice Trumpet Player

We had our first school cancellation due to weather in nearly 3 years today. It started raining buckets late yesterday afternoon and is still raining. School has already been canceled for tomorrow.

Sadly, this incident has coincided with Margarita's first opportunity to bring home a trumpet from school. (the perfect storm, if you will) She is to master playing "Hot Cross Buns"; after today, I'm very confident she will achieve her goal. As if things weren't acoustically trying enough around here with her latest piano piece, "The Entertainer" and Julio's 5th Symphony by Beethoven.

Of course, Guapo was able to make it to work (even though he has the flu), he's like a postman-"neither rain nor sleet" or however that little saying goes; it was just him and one other guy who lives a block away. He called me on the way to the office, "I'm the ONLY car on the road, can you believe that?" Yes. Actually, I can. He had to do some fancy maneuvering (driving on sidewalks, on the wrong side of the road, crossing over dividers, and passing through small rivers) to make it to his office.

I don't blame him for the Herculean effort, being stuck in the house with the boys and the trumpet is enough to do most people in.

So, are you wondering how our house is holding up after all of that work (read: overpriced paint job) we had done in November?

Not so well.

Let's have a little look-see, shall we?

Here's part of the family room:

Another part of the family room:

Margarita's bedroom, this is dripping right down on her bed:

This is right above our TV and DVD player in my and Guapo's room (notice the washcloth on top of the DVD player):

And this is a new one, right above my side of the bed (ugggh!), bringing the percentage of bedrooms with water leaking directly onto the beds to 75%:

But poor Julio has it the worst.

He came into our room in the middle of the night to tell us it was raining on him. We told him to push his bed out of the way and go back to sleep (poor kid, we were still recovering from our sleepless Saturday night). He wasn't kidding; here's just a little part of his ceiling that is leaking:

and the remedy:

I actually had to add more containers as these weren't doing the trick, but I am too tired and lazy to take a new picture. (and just to clear Julio's cool name, he doesn't play with that little ride on car with the blocks; that belongs to Pedro. I have to store toys where I've got the space.)

Here's how much water they collected after only a few hours:

Finally, here's a picture of the lake this morning, you can see the huge amount of runoff water:

But even with the leaks, the restless kids, and the trumpet, I am very grateful to be safe, (relatively) dry, and with electricity and water and Internet service (knocking on wood). This is a storm that has caused landslides, serious flooding, and many deaths, and it just continues to rain...

Sunday, April 04, 2010

I've Just Got to Get This Over With

When you get away from your blog for too long, does it haunt you day and night? Do you feel guilty every time you get on your computer and then start to avoid using your computer altogether? I do. I don't know why it happens, the lulls that is- I guess for different reasons, getting too busy, nothing bloggable going on, etc., etc. And once I'm behind I never know where to start again. I don't like to go back and cover what I've missed; I prefer to start with where I'm at, but that makes it a little choppy.

Oh well. I've got to get back to it so I can start to use my computer again instead of relying solely on my iPhone.

I've missed blogging about two birthdays, a fun trip to Sao Paulo, meeting a blog friend IRL, and an abudance of house problems including, but not limited to, termites, broken appliances and oodles of leaks; I will try to do a catch up post or two at least on the birthdays.

But for now, just a cute little Easter story.

Guapo and I were up a lot last night because Pedro had the croup really bad. It was scary and we started thinking we were going to have to make a trip to the ER, but his airways finally opened up and he could sleep, although with labored breathing.

We had told the kids last night that the egg hunt would not begin until 8am. When 8 am rolled around the three big kids stormed into our room demading that we bounce out of bed. Because we were so tired we didn't move quickly enough for them.

Juan Carlos (6 years old) asked, "Which do you like more, Easter or sleeping?" to which we both grumbled, "sleeping".

In a shocked voice he asked, "WHAT??? You mean you don't like the ressurection?"

So cute.

Ok. I'm back blogging. That wasn't so hard.

(And just for the record, I do like the ressurection. Very much. Even more than sleeping.)