Wednesday, December 31, 2008

End of Semester

Today was our last day of class for the semster. We will take a two week break now, as we move back to the U.S. and spend some time visiting with our family. Ruth has done a phenomenal job this semester and has accomplished even more than we thought she would. We are so proud of her and are pleased to share her progress with you! (I have shared other progress reports here, here, here, here, here, here and here). Here is what she had done in the last month and a half:

  • Finished study about animals and moved on to study of human body
  • Changed schedule--more time in Math four days a week and less time on Friday; removed Portuguese and Structured Reading from Friday; divided Vocabulary and Spelling (two days of Spelling, two days of Vocabulary)
  • Memorized the kings of Judah
  • Got up to 132 words on the Vocabulary Wall
  • Made a book of the poem "The Year," with original illustrations
  • Memorized the poem "The Year"
  • Finished the first grade Math book
  • Finished the second Spelling book
  • Made a picture family tree on the computer
  • Planned (and shopped for) a menu for a day based on the food pyramid requirements
  • Arranged and drew two original still-life drawings
  • Vocabulary and Grammar Mad-Libs
  • Finished a third of the second grade Grammar book
  • Accomplished math goal--125 additon and subtraction facts in 5 minutes
  • Memorized poem "The Goops"
  • Made Assyrian battering ram out of Legos
  • Made purple dye and dyed cloth and pasta for necklace making

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Summer Vacation

It's summer here in the southern hemisphere, and that means summer vacation. The schools let out a couple of weeks ago and our peaceful little beach has turned into a madhouse, as people seem to be flocking here from everywhere--especially some of the more interior states of Brazil. There are thousands of people out there, soaking up the sun on just about every inch of their scantily clad bodies. There are more beach venders--with more products--making more aggressive (though still relatively passive) attempts to sell their wares. The water is oozing with all kinds of watercraft, from wave runners and windsurfers to kyaks and fishing boats. The weather is absolutely perfect. (For me, at least. It may be a touch on the hot side for Jeff). And the people-watching couldn't be better. I'm really glad we've had this place more or less to ourselves for the last 5 1/2 months and haven't had to deal with the hordes, but I'm also really thankful that we have a few more days to soak up some summer time before heading back to WinterLand.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

All the better to bite you with, My Dear

Max has been working hard the last couple of weeks and has finally presented us with his first tooth. We are expecting the second one to pop out in the next week or so. He wears his new tooth well, and if possible, is even cuter than he was before (if you don't mind a mom's completely unbiased opinion)! Take a look for yourself. (You may want to click on the picture for a larger image so you can truly appreciate the tooth in all it's glory).

Friday, December 26, 2008

House Hunting

We've been looking at lots of houses online latey, trying to figure out what's available, what we can afford, what we want, what we need, etc. We all have our priorites and our own take on the process. Jeff is a stickler to the budget, with an eye for the utilitarian. I want something cute and charming. When we saw one with a pink bedroom and a swimming pool, Ruth saw no need to look any further. Weston seems partial to a house with a familiar feel. (When he saw a picture of our house in Austin on the screen saver the other day he said, "I was thinking we could get a house like this one"). And I think Max will be happy with anything with doors, since the opening and closing of these fascinating objects can keep him occupied for long minutes at a time. Unfortunately, it's hard to tell too much from pictures on the computer, so we are all anxious to get back to the States and start our house hunting in earnest. We are looking forward to getting settled and starting the next chapter of our lives. Won't be long now...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Define "Helpful"

Today, while I was washing dishes, Weston announced that he was bringing me a surprise. I couldn't see him from where I was, so I didn't know what he was bringing. The next thing I heard was: "Oh no! I just spilled your surprise all over the floor." At this point, my curiousity peaked and I made my way to where he was. He had been bringing me a box of playing cards, and sure enough, they were all over the floor. "That's o.k." I said, "Just pick them up." He worked for a while and then declared that he couldn't do it by himself. "No. You can. You're doing a great job," I assured him. He beamed at this and replied, "Am I really helpful, Mommy?"

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I Want A New Bug

(A parody song based on real experience to the tune of Huey Lewis' "I Want A New Drug").

I Want a New Bug

I want a new bug,
One that won't bite or sting,
One that won't attack my legs
Or any other thing.

I want a new bug,
One that won't make me red,
One that won't make me itchy,
Or bite me in my bed.

One that won't make my foot swell,
Leaving me in pain;
One that keeps to itself
Or at least is easily slain
A bug that's easily slain.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Math Victory

It's only 6:00 am in Texas, I see, but here it's already 10:00, and we have completed our school day. (Fridays are short days). And with this completion, we are celebrating a a major math victory. On October 8, Ruth began a race against herself. She had 125 math flash cards, including addition and subtraction problems, which she was trying to get through in 5 minutes. She has been practicing the facts almost every school day since then and charting her progress. The first time she did her "race," her time was 7 minutes and 30 seconds. Her chart has peaks and valleys, with a general trend toward a lower time. Today, she finally met her goal, when she did her facts in 4 minutes and 45 seconds. There was screaming and hugging and jumping around! She was so proud of herself, and Jeff and I are equally proud!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Feels like home...sort of

When you live in a foreign country, you miss certain things from home. If you are a Texan, two of those things are Mexican food and country music. Today we had both. Our neighbors are constantly playing their music so that everyone in the building can "enjoy" it, and today was no exception. But at least today they managed to come across something we could understand--on multiple levels! Who knows where they got an Alan Jackson CD or why they chose to put it in, but it made us smile. Adding to the general Texas feeling of the day, our friend (and our first Brazilian convert to the real way to eat avocados) asked Jeff to make guacamole for her birthday party, which he did. It was fantastic! When we arrived at the party, we found that they were serving a version of taco salad, and it did much to assuage our Mexican cravings (though thoughts of Chuy's can't possibly be banished from my mind)! Only two and a half more weeks until we are actually on Texas soil, but for now we'll be happy with any bit of Texas flavor we can get!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

When I Grow Up...

Weston: Dad, did you know that when I grow up I'm going to have a job?

Jeff: No. What kind of job are you going to have?

Weston: I'm going to work at my house.

[pause] Weston: Also, I'm going to have a lady.

Jeff: A lady at your house?

Weston: Yeah. A lady like Mommy, but NOT Mommy.

Jeff: Why are you going to have a lady?

Weston: To take care of me!

[pause] Weston: Actually, I think I'll have two ladies.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Look, Mom, No Hands!

My little guy has a new trick! He can stand without holding on to anything! (But don't tell him. He thinks that because he has something in his hand, he's still holding on).

Friday, December 12, 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Vocabulary Update

Back in October I told you all about Ruth's Vocabulary Wall. At the time, she had 35 words on the wall, which seemed like really a lot. Today, she put Word #120 up, and I thought that warranted another post. In the last month, we have actually changed up our schedule so as to do more with these words. Ruth was way ahead in Spelling, so we cut that class back to two days a week and have made a separate class just for vocabulary on the the other two days that were previously used for Spelling. Ruth can use all 120 of these words in a sentence. She can also pick out the verbs and nouns and adjectives. She can write stories using these words, and can even use them in every day conversation. Some of the words are pretty simple, but some of them are, I dare say, challenging even for the most versed amongst us. Here is the list of words, in no particular order, going across rather than down to save space:

jostle, chaos, metamorphosis, associate, communicate, intervene, arrogance, diameter, calculations, overcast, inspiring, bolster, abyss, identity, ornament, disgrace, abroad, ruthlessly, spare, recount, alight, abandon, decaying, escort, balk, abuse, swift, considerable, purification, edifice, utilitarian, eerie, hideous, envy, iris, mimic, technically, oppress, communal, perilous, enabling, assuage, utter, thrust, folly, grim, caravan, acquaintance, dignified, pennant, portend, restless, position, companion, outcast, lanterns, extinct, diurnal, lament, observation, odor, amid, distraught, braggart, abundance, fraught, deny, breadth, trek, plentiful, alas, tidbit, plateau, haggard, eject, zygodactyl, infuriate, discomfort, accuse, unique, descent, expedition, bosom, dire, necessary, reluctantly, gradual, intense, immortality, resplendent, frieze, earthenware, intent, enhance, endeavor, estimated, propel, director, treachery, honorary, prosperity, permit, fjords, erect, hewn, buoyant, exploits, records, ecstasy, vulnerable, laboror, sparse, ceremony, chatter, formidable, futile, revolved, bade, ordinary

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Unless the Lord builds the house...

We believe that the Lord speaks. And not in vague generalities, but in specific direction-giving ways. We believe this based on what we read in the Bible and based on our own experience. He has spoken to us in many ways on many topics, but the topic I will address today is our move. Many years ago, the Lord spoke, through other faithful believers, that we would eventually move away from Austin. He didn't give us any other details at the time, but we took it on faith that that word would be fulfilled. After a while, Jeff decided he'd like to attend grad school. He took the GMAT and made a stellar score. He then applied to several schools all around the U.S. He was not accepted to any of them, even though his GMAT score was almost perfect. We then understood that this wasn't the Lord's plan for us or the fulfillment of the word He had spoken. Time passed, and Jeff began seeking opportunities within the company he was working for at the time that would move us out of Austin. This didn't work out either. About a year later, he got an offer to work for another company in Austin. We still believed what the Lord had spoken, but this seemed like a good opportunity and another viable option hadn't presented itself. So, Jeff took the job, knowing it wasn't going to be a long-term arrangement. While he was there, he made some contacts that allowed him to start his own consulting business, which he operated on the side. Then, about a year ago, the consulting business began suddenly to blossom. Eventually, it became clear that the Lord had blessed Jeff's consulting business in such a way as to finally fulfill the word He had spoken ,and that he had kept us in Austin for a time to prepare us for something down the road. So, we put our heads together to try to come up with a good place to move. What we came up with was College Station. We went to school at A&M and always enjoyed living there. We began looking at houses there and were discouraged at not finding anything we loved within our budget. In the meantime, an opportunity presented itself for us to move to Brazil for six months. We decided to use this time to seek the Lord for further direction. About a month after we arrived, the Lord gave me a dream, warning me of a difficult situation in College Station. We were sure He was telling us not to move there at this time. A week after that, Jeff attended a church in another part of the city that neither of us had ever been to before, and he asked the people there to pray for him, telling them nothing of our specific request about where to move. The Lord spoke through the people there, showing very clearly that we should not move to College Station. We were very blessed to have my dream confirmed, and we began seeking the Lord for further direction. For the Lord's own reasons, He has chosen not so much to give us the big picture and tell us where to go, but rather to tell us where not to go. So, we continue to seek Him. (Maybe that's part of the reason. With too much information, we become dependent upon ourselves and fail to seek Him as we should). It does seem, though, that He is providing us with an opportunity to serve Him in and around the Houston area, specifically near Kingwood. So, that is where we are planning to go when we get back to the States, unless the Lord shows us something different. Our greatest desire is to be in the place the Lord wants us, and we are learning that “unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” (Psalm 127:1)

Monday, December 08, 2008

More Order and Progress

Last week I made a post listing some of my observations about Brazilian culture and ways of thinking. Here's the next installment:
  • Less is definitely more when it comes to swim wear (for him and her) and maternity clothes—regardless of body size, shape or color.
  • Granite is cheap and plentiful. In addition to all its regular uses, it is also used as baseboards, as toppers for cheap metal tables and to pave garages and sidewalks.
  • It's not uncommon or unacceptable to refer to your wife as “My Woman.” Jeff was once invited to a BBQ party where the invitation specifically said, “It's okay to bring "The Woman.” I can't tell you how flattered I was.
  • Why pay once when you can “passa la” (finance)? If you spend more than about $R 20 and you pay with your credit card, you are always asked if you'd like to divide the payment. It took a while for us to figure out the pricing when we first started coming to Brazil years ago because the prices are preceded by "Something X," showing how many payments of a certain amount are required to purchase the item. You can finance your tennis shoes, your groceries, or just whatever. The clerks are always shocked when Jeff and I opt to just pay the whole bill right then and there, with one swipe of the card.
  • Burger King IS king. The line is ALWAYS long, and we never fail to see hordes of people, of all ages, taking pictures of themselves wearing the little paper crown. Clearly, these people aren't as creeped out by the Burger King character in the commercials as I am.
  • A little bling is good. A lot is better.
  • Everyone is born playing the guitar. Other instruments may be added at anytime.
  • Passing zones mean nothing. Not even on twisty, turny mountain roads. Not even at 70 mph. Not even in pouring rain.
  • Acceptable ways of answering the phone: “Pronto.” ("Ready.") and “Fala.” ("Speak.")
  • There's no wrap like plastic wrap. In case the vacuum seal on the cheese isn't good enough for you, it is also wrapped in plastic wrap. So is luggage. I'm not kidding.
  • You can easily fit 9 people in a compact car.
  • They wouldn't have put a horn in the car if they didn't want you to use it.
  • Cool is: listening to English music and wearing clothing with words printed in English. Even though you don't speak or understand a word. We've got this one covered. We've never been so cool!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Is there something you're not telling me?!

Jeff was signing up on one of those networking websites--where you put in all the things you're interested in, and then they come back to you with groups you might want to look into. The number one group that came up for him was "Ebony: Big, Bold, Beautiful, Black Women." Any one else here curious to know what Jeff's meet-up criteria were?!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Practicing to be wealthy

A couple of months ago we had lunch with a friend, who, upon realizing the relative lateness of the hour, exclaimed, "Well, I guess we are practicing to be wealthy today!" He went on to explain that servants always eat an early lunch, around 11:00 or 11:30, so that they can serve the wealthier people around 1:00. His theory was, the later you eat lunch, the wealthier you must be. So, today we went out to a Portuguese (the country, not the language) restaurant that is owned by a man we know. This place makes no claim about being a fast-food place. In fact, they say right on the menu how long you can expect to wait for certain dishes. They are intent upon making everything fresh and not having any reheating. The special was sort of a codfish chower that was very good. But we did wait for it, and finally ending up eating our lunch around 2:15. Interestingly enough, in the course of our meal, the man we were dining with told us that this fish is very expensive for most Brazilians and that if someone you know sees you putting it in your shopping cart at the store, they will be very impressed. So, today was certainly our day to practice being wealthy. This is good, because I'm sure some day we will actually be wealthy.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


Way back in March, we had family pictures made in the bluebonnets (by a professional photographer), with the notion of giving some of the pictures to our moms for Mother's Day. A month ago, I finally received the images, and have just now gotten them uploaded onto my computer for your viewing pleasure. So, Happy Mother's Day!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Potty Talk

This is a family-friendly blog, and I really like to keep it clean. But, frankly, some of the funniest conversations in our house during the last year (since we've been potty training Weston) take place in the bathroom. Here is a sampling of some of our favorites:

Dad: Are you finished?
Weston: No.
[time passes]
Dad: Are you finished?
[Weston begins to violently swing his legs from the sitting position to horizontally out from the potty].
Weston: [grunt] That's hard to do.

Dad: Are you finished?
Weston: No, I just have a few more things to do.

Dad: Are you finished?
Weston: No.
[time passes, Weston's face is crimson]
Dad: Are you finished now?
Weston (smiling): Satisfeito. {This is the Portuguese word that people use at the end of a meal to mean they are satisfied and don't want anything else to eat}.
Weston: Satisfeito means "all done."

Weston: What's that old poo poo doing there in my underwear?
Mom: It's just a stain.
Weston: It's just for decoration?

Weston: Dad, why is it white?
Dad: Probably because you drank a lot of water.
Weston (truly striken): I wanted it to be lello!


Monday, December 01, 2008