Thursday, July 31, 2008

Great Moments In Parenting

It was one of those days. You know the kind. The (big) kids were loud, disobedient, argumentative and, at moments, completely out of control. They were constantly picking on each other, making each other scream and cry. Jeff and I felt like we were getting on to them all day long, but nothing seemed to work. We had already planned to make pizza for dinner--which the kids were obviously excited about--but we didn't feel like their behavior warranted such a reward. So, in what we thought was a stroke of pure parenting genius, we decided that we would go ahead and have the pizza ourselves and serve the kids leftover chicken, explaining to them that you don't get to have special things, like pizza, if you don't make good choices. And to make them really suffer, we would serve them the boring-est of the boring as a side: unseasoned, boiled cabbage. As expected, they were heartbroken at not getting to eat the pizza. But here's where the plan broke down: they both loved the cabbage and ravenously scarfed it down. In fact, Ruth didn't even eat her chicken. She only ate cabbage. And Weston doesn't eat any vegetables if he can avoid it--except cabbage, as it turns out. Still, I think the pain of us eating pizza--and mango/pineapple pie--in front of them without them getting a bite will inspire a genuine change in behavior for tomorrow. If not, we'll just threaten to take away their cabbage.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Feelin' the love

I cannot not tell you how loved Jeff and I (and the kids) have felt since we have been here in Brazil. We have no less than a dozen phone numbers of people who have told us we can call them anytime if we need anything--from people in our church to random cab drivers, to the porter in our building and our neighbor. We have been invited to playgroups and birthday parties. Our children have been given gifts in abundance. We've had several offers from people willing (and eager) to babysit our kids. It's been amazing. And every person is completely genuine. They truly want to help and to just be friendly. We have been made to feel so very welcome. Unfortunately, American culture tends to be much more closed, with everyone minding his or her own business and not really caring what anyone else is doing. It's been convicting to me being here as I've thought about how I might treat a foreigner living in my country. I'm ashamed to say that I don't even know if I'm capable of showing the kind of love to strangers that has been shown to me here. I do hope that I will come home changed, though, and be a more loving, genuine person, looking outward at the needs of others instead of only and always inward at what's going on in my own little world.

Monday, July 28, 2008

No Stopping Him Now

Our little guy is mobile now. It's not really orthodox crawling, but he can flat get where he wants to go--and quickly, too. Just look at that look on his face. He's knows the world has opened up to him in a whole new, wonderful way. I would love to show you the video, but our internet connection still isn't quite that powerful. It's been loaded on flickr, though, so if you have better internet service than we do, you might be able to check it out there--but I'm not making any promises. There are also lots of other new pictures up there, if you're interested.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Sexta-Feira: A Day In The Life

  • Ruth finished 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, her second in her current goal of five books.
  • We went to the grocery store, which is a very big outing for us. It entails loading the boys up in the stroller, packed with my front-pack carrier for Max, our big bag and a few toys; walking several miles over to the store; picking out the things on our list; gawking at all the things we aren't familiar with; letting everyone pick out one special something to take home; finding at least one new thing to try; convincing the clerk that we really are not interested in paying for our groceries in installments; loading Max into the carrier; loading the stroller up with groceries; walking back home; and finding a place for everything in our (not-so) gigantic kitchen. It's a blast! One of our favorite outings of the week!
  • Ruth's last day of a day-camp she has been attending at a nearby language school. She was actually in a class that was being taught in English to Portuguese-speaking children. But it helped her gain confidence in interacting with Portuguese speakers and allowed her to get out of the house and away from us, and make some new friends, while enjoying some fun activities--like American football (as opposed to soccer, which is the "football" of choice around here) on the beach.
  • Laundry Day. Sounds a little mundane, but it's actually a huge, huge deal, since I have 3 children, as you know--one of whom is two and another of whom has just recently started eating solids; and since there are quite a lot of laundry rules to follow. For instance, each family is only allowed to use the lavanderia two times during the week--not including Saturday and Sunday--for six hours at a time. They enforce this by having you check out a key, not to the laundry room, but to the individual washers and dyers. And they keep a log of when you return the keys. In addition, you must sign up for a machine at least 24 hours in advance, so there's no just slipping in and doing your laundry on a moments notice--although they did let me get away with that my very first time because there happened to be a free machine, and I'm sure they felt sorry for the poor, dumb American bumbling her way through the process.
  • Churrasco success! Jeff got going early on the churrasco and produced a fabulous pile of (cooked) meat any Watts man would be proud of.
  • Dessert! Fridays have always kind of been days that we have a little mini-celebration to start the weekend. Tonight we indulged in some of our special grocery store treasures: chocolate/hazelnut cookies, Garoto bombons and balls of chocolate yumminess covered in chocolate sprinkles.
  • Family Night. We like to use Friday evenings as a pure family night when we can. We usually have a little family Bible study and then do something like play a game or watch a movie or some other little something that we can all do together. Tonight it was Phase 10--a card game that both kids know how to play (with our modified rules, which more resemble Uno) and enjoy very much.
It was a very fun and intersting day, and now it's time for a restful and peaceful night. Hope you all had a happy Sexta-Feira as well. I'll try to check back in with you tomorrow.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

If the Salmonella doesn't get you, the love bug will

The first time Jeff ever cooked for me we were dating and in college. He spent quite a long time cooking chicken on his little hibachi grill and then served it to me raw along with some excuse about the charcoal. We ended up going out for burgers as we laughed at the situation. I fell completely head-over-heels in love, and he's been cooking for me ever since--although I would definitely say his technique has improved and most of the things he produces in the kitchen or on the grill are super-fabulous these days. But sometimes, you need to go back in time, to remember why you fell in love in the first place, and tonight was just that occasion. Jeff decided to try out the little churrasco grill at our apartment complex tonight. (Picture meat on swords going around and around over a charcoal fire). So, we all hung out by the pool (with a view of the ocean) while the meat went around and around (and around), having a grand ol' time, until it finally became clear that the chicken was not going to be done at any kind of a reasonable dinner time, at least not on this day. Turns out language isn't the only thing with a learning curve. We laughed, moved on to Plan B, and maybe fell just a little more in love. And the mishap aside, the churrasco is a wonderful invention that definitely has the potential to produce good eats. We will certainly be trying this again soon.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Como se diz...?*

They do not teach you everything you need to know in Portuguese classes. Here are some of the questions/situations we have had to navigate since we've been here:
  • My son had an accident and I need new sheets for the bed.
  • Our sink is stopped up. Can you help us?
  • I need the key for the washer/dryer.
  • Will this cell phone work internationally?
  • Where can I recharge the credits on my prepaid cell phone?
  • Is the grocery store open on Sunday?
  • Where is the nearest grocery store?
  • No, my baby is not cold. In fact, he is sweating.
  • Etc. etc.
Living in a country where you don't speak the language is not for the faint of heart. It is sometimes very frustrating, but also pretty exciting when you are actually able to communicate. These were some of the successful conversations. I won't even bother with the ones that went nowhere.

*That's "how do you say...?"

Monday, July 21, 2008

From Our Back Porch, You Can See The Sea

Here's the amazing view* from our porch:

*Picture this as a panorama, and know that it definitely doesn't do justice to how amazing the view actually is. And it doesn't have sound, so you don't get the soothing crashing of waves, but it'll give you a small idea about what our backyard is like and why we love this place.

Friday, July 18, 2008

We Have Arrived

In Brazil. In our apartment. In life, in general, it seems. We arrived in this inappropriately-named country of "Order and Progress" a week ago yesterday. We spent the first five days in an apartment that our church keeps for foreign visitors, where all five of us (and our intimidatingly large amount of luggage) stayed in one little room, packed wall to wall with twin-size beds. We shared our meals with people from Brazil, Peru, the Czech Republic and the United States. It was a wonderful experience, but we were thankful to get to move into our own apartment on Tuesday. It is still a small space (about 600 sf), but there are lots of common areas in the building we can use, and--and this is the best part--our back yard is the Atlantic Ocean, so it doesn't really seem so small. (I'm serious about that backyard thing. From our porch on the 8th floor we have a 180 degree view of the beach/ocean, and it is absolutely is amazing)! And aside from a few minor inconveniences--no hot water in the kitchen sink, laundry facilities 5 floors below, imperfect internet service and not speaking or understanding the language very well, and maybe one or two other little things--it's absolutely perfect! The kids are having a blast, and Weston has surprised us by being the most willing of anyone to speak the language and make new friends. I will upload pictures when we figure out how to get a wider bandwidth for the internet signal. This afternoon, we are headed up into the mountains for the weekend. Our church has a beautiful campground there where we will attend a seminar. We are looking forward to drawing nearer to the Lord and enjoying a very lovely part of His creation. I'll check back in with you sometime next week.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

See You On The Flip Side

Of the world. Literally. We head out for Brazil tomorrow! Unbelievable. And as soon as Jeff gets back from Wal-mart with another suitcase for us (so, we can't count!), I think we will be able to get everything packed...and under the weight limits. Hopefully. After I post this, I will pack up my computer, and then will be out of touch for a while. Until we get settled. So, it might be a couple of weeks or so. Don't give up on me. I will be back--in Bloggerland in the near-term and in America in the longer-term. I love you all and appreciate your thoughts and prayers and well-wishes. Tchau (Brazillian "ciao") for now.

Monday, July 07, 2008

La Isla Bonita

*See the rest of the pics on flickr.