Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Here Comes The Sun

Our friend said it would rain for two weeks, and by golly, it rained for exactly two weeks. The sun came out on Monday, and Spring seems to be official now--though the weather seems about the same as it was before the rain began. (The mosquitoes are different, though, which I find very interesting). People have reappeared on the beach and the muddy footprints are starting to disappear off the floor. (Perhaps my floor is the only one that had muddy footprints, since the Brazilian women mop the floor about ten times a day, rain or shine). We have folded up our guarda-chuvas, and we're venturing out more. (Though, I can tell you, it's nowhere near warm enough yet for me to step foot in the ocean or pool). We are glad to see the sun and are looking forward to another beautiful season in this beautiful place.

Monday, September 29, 2008

And while we're on the subject...

Today I said to Weston, after he successfully used the potty by himself, "When did you get to be such a big boy?!" The sage response didn't come from Weston but from a high-pitched feminine voice in the other room: "Well, Mom, kids grow up fast."

That they do, Miss Ruth, that they do.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

More than just a big boy haircut

You have all, by now, noticed Weston's big boy haircut (but you can check out my last post if you're lost here). But there is more to him than just a new 'do. He has become a big boy in so many other ways recently as well. He has learned how to dress and undress himself (if you don't count the occasional wrong-side-out and backwards shirt) and to go potty by himself--(Can I get a "WooHoo?!"). He can also just about say the whole alphabet now, and he can recognize signs and structures of places we go fairly regularly. As a mom, I find these accomplishments to be bittersweet. I thrill at the addition of each new skill, and I beam with pride at every milestone reached. But I must admit, it is a little sad for me, this warp speed passing of childhood. So, I secretly relish those moments when he is still a little boy--when he wants to sit in my lap or needs my help with some little task or asks me to sing his special "do-do-do" song when he's sleepy or sad. His growing up is inevitable, and I wouldn't change that for the world. I look forward to sharing each new phase of his development with all of you. But, in the quiet of my heart, I will be enjoying every minute that I still have him as my little boy.

Saturday, September 27, 2008




Thursday, September 25, 2008

Gaits Allowed

The other day I stopped Ruth, as she whizzed past me, and told her to stop running. She responded just as cool as you please: "I wasn't running. I was galloping." Darn loopholes. So, now half of our marker board has been devoted to the following:

Gaits Allowed*
  • Walk
  • Saunter
  • Stroll
  • Swagger
  • March
  • Tiptoe/Sneak
  • Prowl
The kids think this is hilarious and have been practicing the gaits in hopes of establishing a favorite. Ruth is partial to the "prowl," while Weston seems to prefer the "march." The "cruise" is not included on the list but is certainly Max's gait of choice, although he still employs the "crawl" when he wants to get somewhere fast.
*For more information on these gaits and the disallowed gaits, you can click here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

60 Years

Sixty years ago today, two of my very favorite people in the whole world decided to join forces to create something truly amazing. My grandmother was only 17 when she said "I do," but she certainly knew what she was doing. And she and Grandaddy have been doing it well for sixty years now. Their relationship is truly special, and I dare say they love each other today every bit as much as the day they married.

Congratulations, Granny and Grandaddy! I love you both and am so proud to be a part of your family! May you have many more beautiful years together!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

And the brother-in-law-of-the-day award goes to...


He brought me fun surprises from Texas: quality, grease-cutting dishsoap and a case of DIET DR. PEPPERS!!! This last item was the clincher. And, in fact, he probably would have won if he would have just brought me one. I may or may not have done a little dance at being presented with a whole case. Thanks for participating, Chad. Better luck next time. Parabens, Alan! You rock!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Quote of the day:

"I really liked math today! We used our brains instead of our crayons." ~Ruth

Sunday, September 21, 2008

What Are the Odds?

We decide to move to a relatively small city, within a huge country, 6,000 miles from Texas. Then, of all the places in the world, Jeff's brother gets sent to that same smallish city, in that same huge country for work, within the timeframe of our stay. But, wait, there's more. His company books him in the hotel they always use in this city, and it turns out to be 4 blocks from our apartment. Now, seriously, what are the odds of that?!

Friday, September 19, 2008

What's missing from this picture?

Answer: An itty bitty bottom front tooth from my great big girl!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

Maybe. But, I'm not getting my hopes up. On Saturday, our friend said to us, "Now you will see it rain. It always rains for two weeks when the season is changing." And I'll be darned if it didn't start raining on Sunday. And we haven't seen the sun since. Our friend neglected to mention that it was also going to get COLD.* (As if it were winter or something)! The ocean has almost disappeared from view, and we certainly aren't enjoying any walks on the beach or dips in the pool. Thankfully, a care package arrived from the grandparents today with new toys, books and videos! There were squeals of delight all around! Thanks, Nana and Papa! We needed that fun little surprise to chase away the clouds. (Nevermind that you mailed it a month ago--it got here when we needed it most)!

*We are still tropical here, people, so it's not like we have icicles hanging off our balcony or anything. It's just that we packed for, well, a tropical climate, so we are feeling a bit chilled. At least I am. I think Jeff has just finally stopped sweating!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Our Beloved Liquificador

We have but one small appliance here in our teeny, tiny kitchen (if you don't count our half-size refrigerator and stove): the blender we treated ourselves to one day at the mall. But, it has taken on the roll of many others. In addition to the normal smoothies, we have also used it in making juice, chocolate milk, mashed potatoes, gravy, guacamole, and chocolate chip cookie dough, to name just a few applications. In the States, I used my blender, but not frequently--really just for smoothies and milkshakes. But, now, my eyes have been opened to a whole new world of possibilities for this powerful little underappreciated workhorse. Now, if I can just get it to wash the dishes!

Monday, September 15, 2008

For a good time call...

You'll remember that we don't have a car. So, we've been walking everywhere we need to go, which has been great. The only struggle that we've had with this at all has been grocery shopping. When we first moved here, we would walk over to the store every few days, pick up those necessities that could be carried or packed up in the stroller and then walk home. Bringing home a particularly heavy load one time--testing both the shocks on the stroller and Jeff's own manliness (made worse by incredibly uneven sidewalks and a completely handicap-indifferent society)--coupled with a more difficult time of coordinating school schedules and nap schedules with shopping schedules, made us give in and decide that some things are definitely car-worthy.

So, yesterday, we hired a cab to bring us (and our significant haul) back to the apartment. That was funny enough in itself: the five of us plus a Costco-sized load of groceries in a little Fiat. But when we arrived at the apartment, it got really interesting. Jeff hopped out of the cab at the door to our building to tell the porter to open up the garage for us, which was done without delay. There is a pretty steep ramp, with a curve in it, going up into the garage, and just as we reached the curve, the car died and we began sliding down the ramp backwards, toward the street. The driver muttered something about gasoline as the car rolled to a stop, with the right side of the car flush up against the wall.

I'm not having fun at this point (in fact, I'm somewhat terrified), but when I look up, there is a car coming at us head-on down the single-lane ramp. As the driver tries to figure out what to do next, I grab the kids, jump out of the cab and hustle everyone to the safety of our apartment. That's where my first-hand account ends, but not the utter ridiculousness of the situation. So, somehow, the driver gets the car loose from the wall and continues his backward descent, only to get stuck again. Finally, he is able to get down to the street, leaving an acrid smell of burnt rubber in the air. He mentions gasoline again and Jeff is pretty sure the guy is about to take off with all our groceries, never to be seen again. Just then another car enters the garage, and, inspired, our faithful cab driver decides to give it another go. This time he manages to get his cab wedged at the top of the ramp, inside the curve. The driver who had just gone up comes over to see what in the world is going on and begins telling the cab driver what an idiot he is and instructing him on how to properly enter the garage. The cab driver then vacates his car and the other man gets in and gets the car up the ramp, delivering our grocery-filled cab to the elevator door and then going on his merry way! If that's not a good time, I don't know what is!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Where There's a Will, There's a Weston

Over the course of the past month, we have noticed a change in our sweet, little, compliant Weston. Don't get me wrong, he's still just as sweet as he can be, but not so much compliant. He has decided to embrace all the glory of his two-ness, and has adopted a mantra of "I don't want to!" This is usually followed by a major crying fit when he is forced to do whatever it is he doesn't want to do--which can literally be anything. It's not really out-and-out rebellion, like we had (have) from a certain other child in our family (who I may have mentioned is just like her mother), but it is frustrating nonetheless and still needs to be corrected--though I admit I am sometimes at a loss as to how to help him through this difficult age.

But then there are moments like we had this evening, when I asked him to pick up some toys. He, of course, didn't want to, which led to the afore mentioned fit. He was in the thick of it and I was losing patience, when all of a sudden he stopped, came over to me and said, "I want to pray and ask the Lord to help me not be sad." Then, he closed his little eyes and prayed to the Lord with complete sincerity. When he finished the prayer, he hugged me and then proceeded to pick up the toys. I was reminded at that moment that I only have him on loan--and when I get to the end of my ability to parent, he still has a Parent that is far wiser than I to help him through his twos. And I was reminded that I need to take my frustration to the Lord the same way Weston took his.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Good News

My eye is completely better. But even more important is the fact that we found a restaurant (very close to our apartment) that has GUACAMOLE (and chips) on the menu. And not only that, it's actually quite tasty! Plus, it's just a cool little place. We will definitely be going back.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Replacing Illness With Injury

Did you miss me last night? No, I wasn't still sick. My illness was long gone. But I did have another little problem. That being blindness. Well, almost. So, around 6:00 yesterday evening I was holding Max in my lap. And he was doing what all happy babies do. He was waving his arms wildly at the object of his affection--in this case, me. We were having the best time. Until he caught me right in the eye. You know how a good poke in the eye hurts, right? And how your eye waters like crazy? Well, boy did it, on both counts. Usually this just lasts a short time and then you are back in the game. But this time I think Max actually managed to scratch my eyeball because my eye continued to water and hurt like the dickens for the next three hours, even with all my homeopathic attempts to assuage it! At that point I couldn't stand it any more and put myself to bed, promising Jeff that I would see a doctor today if it wasn't better. Obviously, I survived since I'm here to write about it. The excrutiating pain was gone when I woke up this morning, but I have still had slightly fuzzy vision on and off throughout the day and more eye goo than usual. I think by tomorrow I'll be back to 100%. I still hope to be the object of Max's affection, but maybe this time at arm's length.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Calling in a sub

I've only been teaching for three weeks and I have already had to call in a sub. Fortunately, there was someone available who could be trusted to teach the classes as if they were his own. I woke up feeling fine, but by the time I was finished with my shower I had a headache that wouldn't quit. I thought maybe it was just the dread of laundry day looming before me, but five minutes into the science lesson I knew it was more than that. The headache had been growing steadily worse, culmintating in a tossing of cookies and a calling in of the reserves. I did manage to get the laundry mostly done, but I also worked in a serious nap, which left my stomach settled if not my head. That one stuck with me through dinner, but then just sort of vanished, and now I feel fine. I think Ruth was sort of surprised and delighted to know that Jeff and I can take over each other's classes when necessary. Not that she was glad I wasn't feeling well. She gave no end of hugs and sympathetic words. She is such a sweetie. And Weston was oblivious to my not feeling well, but was thrilled that someone besides himself wanted to take a nap. (He, of course, would never admit that he wanted to take a nap, because that's just not what two-year-olds do. But he is always secretly thrilled when nap time rolls around). I look forward to being back in the teaching saddle again tomorrow, hopefully operating at full capacity.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Weekend Checklist

  • Visit "the shopping" to pay electric bill, attempt (unsuccessfully) to work out phone problems, purchase new sheets for the kids and pick up some super-cute hair accessories. Check.
  • Carmel candy making/eating session. Check.
  • Late-night churrasco party. Check.
  • Chubby pancakes. Check.
  • Walk along the beach. Check.
  • Purchase cutie bag from beach vendor. Check.
  • Play on the beach and in the ocean. Check.
  • Prepare school lessons for upcoming week. Check.
  • Naps all around. Check.
  • Self-given pedicure. Check.
  • Gigantic burgers from what can only be called "a joint." Check.
  • Biscuits and bacon. Check.
  • Swimming and lounging by the pool. Check.
  • Naps outra vez. Check.
  • Sweeet dreams. Check.
  • Lots of pretending--complete with "fort" building. Check.
  • Read, read, read. Check.
Overall, a beautiful weekend. Hope yours was wonderful as well.

Friday, September 05, 2008

A poem by yours truly, inspired by by real life

Sleepless Love

A mother may close her eyes in prayer
Or even in a blink.
But a mother never really sleeps;
This is what I think.

In a moment a child is born,
A new awareness, too.
For a mother may be needed
At four or three or two.

Only she can wipe a nose
Or chase away bad dreams,
With soothing words or gentle touch--
Whatever that night deems.

She may grumble in the morning
And take her coffee black.
But she would not neglect her post
Just to have a few winks back.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

On My Own

Well, it has taken me right at two months, but I have finally ventured out on my own. Jeff has a much better command of Portuguese than I do. But that aside, he has approached the lanuguage as he does all things--with utter and complete confidence. So, whether he actually knows more or just isn't as afraid to use what he does know is up for debate. The point is, I have been relying heavily on him when leaving the apartment so that he can do the talking/listening when and if it becomes necessary. This week, though, I have gone shopping twice on my own, and today I even went to pay a bill. (This is another special aspect of Brazilian culture: bills must be paid in person, in cash. It's fantastically inconvenient, on so many levels). It seems like a silly thing, I guess, but I'm really proud of myself. I feel like I am finally becoming more confident with using the language. And what freedom there is in that!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Love It or Leave It

There are things from home that I miss, and there are things I haven't once thought of. These lists are comprised strictly of things--not people--so don't get your feelings hurt if you don't see your name on the "love it" list. Just assume that you are loved and missed. Also, realize that I'm not saying I won't be glad to have some of the things on the "leave it" list when we get back. It's just that they have turned out to be less important than I might have once thought.

Love It--The much-missed and not-to-be-lived-without for more than six months:

  • Dishwasher
  • Hot water in the sink
  • My own laundry facilities and the liberty to do laundry whenever I want
  • My massage chair
  • Diet Dr. Pepper
  • The Swiffer mop
  • Mircowave
  • The back yard, where the kids can go play without my constant supervision
  • Full-size, comfy couch (Jeff would probably substitute recliner here) and possibly some other comfy furniture
  • More than a handful of plates and silverware
  • What Jeff likes to call "adult-sized" drinking glasses
  • English
Leave It--The nice, but certainly not necessary:
  • Car/Minivan
  • 2000+ sq. ft. of living space
  • More than 10 pairs of shoes and more than 2 weeks worth of unique outfits
  • Home decor
  • Television
  • Gobs of toys
  • Carpet
  • Stores that are open all the time
If you were to make lists like this, what do you think you would put on them?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Color-Coded World and The Yellow Fellow

Brazil is big into color-coding. Groceries for instance. Cold items go in a blue bag, cleaning supplies in a yellow bag and non-cold food items in a white bag. And uniforms. Everybody wears a uniform--for school, for work, for soccer on the beach--and every uniform has it's own color, of course. Doctor's wear white. Always. Whether on duty or not. Color is everywhere. In the flowers, the fruits, the linens hanging out to dry on so many balconies. But Weston sees only yellow. He has two yellow shirts that he adores. He insists on drinking the tea that comes only out of the yellow box. He'll fight anyone in the family for our one predominantly yellow plate. He prefers Ruth's school pencils to his box of colored pencils because, you guessed it, they are all yellow. We went out to eat last night at a little restaurant around the corner. Moments after we were seated near a yellow wall and across from a yellow beverage cooler, he exclaimed, "They have all the colors here, but I really love the yellow." Everything he spoke of then was in relation to it's proximity to "the yellow." At least he's man who knows what he likes.