Wednesday, June 30, 2010

For my friends who live in the southern hemisphere....

For those of you who have forgotten your 3rd grade geography, we in the southern hemisphere are in our winter now.  For most Brazilians, it is practically summer year round, but here in the south of Brazil, we actually have winter.  No snow, of course, but it does get cold.

I like to read blogs.  I don't watch TV.  I just read blogs for my entertainment.  I love to read blogs of other moms who like to do crafts, decorate, cook and plan fun things with their kids.

It seems like all the blogs talk about now is how much fun they had doing this or that in the summer heat.    I remember last summer when we had our share of summer heat.  Horrible.  Our kids were home with not much to do.  (Brazilians head to the beaches to their family's beach house.  Interestingly enough, our families' beach houses are not located in Brazil.  Our families don't even have beach houses come to think of it...) 

Anyway, that made for long hot days and not a lot to do except waste time watching too much TV.  

Soo....what I am trying to get around to is...that I have started a folder on my Bookmarks Bar called "summer activities".  Whenever I see something fun to do in the summer heat, I put the site in this folder.  Hopefully, when summer comes around I'll have lots of ideas to keep us all busy.

Here are a few things so far.....

Have you seen any cute summer ideas?  If so, send them my way.....

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Good Way to Start Running

There are natural runners.......
(Anderson really gets into running...)

(My husband and his sister after a race.)

And then there are those who know that running is good, want to try it, but just aren't...well...natural.
(Me (not a natural) and Carys (a natural) after my race.)

I, obviously, fall into the second category.  I don't just hop out of bed one fine day and decide I'm going to run a 5K, or even a 1K for that matter.  I have to build up.

A few years ago, I ran across a running plan in a Brazilian magazine.  I followed the plan and worked my way into being able to run for 30 minutes without stopping.  Of course, since then I've lost the copy of the magazine, but I remember the main idea of the plan.

Maybe there are some more "unnatural runners" out there like me, who would like to get into running.  Here is a way you can work your way into it.
  1. Walk 5 minutes
  2. Run slowly 2 minutes
  3. Run fast 1 minute
  4. Walk 2 minutes
  5. Repeat steps 2, 3, and 4 until you have done them 5 times.
  6. Walk 5 minutes to cool down.
That's it.  After that gets easy to do, make it a little harder by reducing the walking time and increasing the running time.  Keep going until you don't need to walk anymore.

I am doing this right now with a friend of mine who hadn't run in a long time.  The first day she barely made it and had to stop several times.  After 2 weeks, running 3 times a week, she is doing this much more easily and is ready to increase the running.

It works!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Catching Up

Well, it appears that I took a week off from blogging.  Sometimes, it just doesn't seem like there is enough time in the day.  Here is what is going on around our house.

It's winter here.  We haven't had any really, really cold days here yet, just lots of rain.  It normally doesn't get that cold, but we don't have central heat in our houses, so whatever it is outside, it is inside and sometimes colder.  Not fun.  I've come to realize that central heat and air is a luxury that very, very few people in the world enjoy.  If you have it, you should consider yourself very blessed.

Yesterday, it was 80 degrees here and a beautiful day.  The pictures on this post are from our neighborhood yesterday.

Bronwyn leaves for the US to go to college 3 weeks from Thursday.  We have a list a mile long of stuff to do before she leaves.  Ansley and I will go there at the beginning of August to actually take her to school and get her settled in.  Giovanni is going too because he still flies for free and who can resist a free trip to see grandparents?

Ansley is a senior this year and is super busy with school activities.  Recently she spent 24 hours non-stop working with a team in a competition between schools answering hard questions that had to be researched on the internet and figured out.  This past weekend, she spent 18 hours at school coordinating a "gincana" - which is like a funny competition between the classes doing silly jobs and figuring out riddles.  It is one of the most fun things that her school does.  She is also going to participate in a trip to Peru for a week with her Spanish class.  Basically it is non-stop until graduation in December.  She is an awesome student and great girl and we are proud of her.

Garrett is loving his new school, studying and playing soccer.  He is loving every game of the World Cup.  Friday night it was pouring rain.  Garrett had gone home with a friend and was supposed to play in a soccer match near the school.  But since it was raining so much, we didn't know where he was.  (He had forgotten to take his phone, and we didn't have the number of the friend.)  While I was volunteering at the school that night, Kevin went to the place where they were supposed to play soccer, on the off chance that they were actually playing.  Yes, there they were having a blast playing soccer in the rain.  Garrett scored two goals and loved every minute of it.

Carys is also loving the new school.  She has many new friends who are always inviting her to come over and hang out.  She is also taking tennis lessons.  She is by far the most athletic female in our house. (Actually the ONLY athletic female - the rest of us just pretend.)  I have never seen her play a sport that she wasn't good at.  She is also spending a lot of time drawing and she is really, really good.

Anderson is loving kindergarten. He is reading in Portuguese and English.  Kids are amazing in their ease with the two languages.  He is also eating up every minute of the World Cup.  He is such a fun kid and always has something to say.  Yesterday, I was putting his shoes on him and he said, "Mom, I love being your son."  Aww...

Giovanni is growing and talking more and more.  He still loves to play in the bathroom DAILY, and dump out collections of whatever happens to be around.  His favorite thing to do is still read books.  He will sit and listen and let you read, or just look at the book himself examining each page.  He will be two in September and I know I am babying him more than I did the others.  But, I don't care.

Kevin and I are busy meeting one on one with different people studying together, talking, and listening.   Our house church gets better every day and we are blessed to see God working around us.  We are both running  - I haven't quit yet!  We are also reading some really great books which I hope to share on this blog later.

Well, that's a little catch up of what's going on around here.  Hope to post more this week!

Friday, June 18, 2010


Last Sunday, I called my dad and wished him a happy father's day.  Oops, wrong Sunday.  Father's Day in Brazil is in August, and I got a little ahead of myself!

I am especially grateful for three dads in my life.  My dad, my father-in-law, and my husband.  I thought about trying to write something about each one, but then I began to think about what I appreciate most about each one.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it is the same thing in each one.


Integrity, to me, means being strong in character.  It means doing the right thing.  It doesn't mean perfection, but it does mean being humble enough to admit when you are wrong and make it right.

I see this quality in all three of these dads in my life.

What a blessing it is to be able to count on them to always do the right thing.  What a comfort it is to know how they are going to respond to a situation.  What peace it gives to not have to worry about anger, or harshness, or condemnation.

Thank you, Daddy, for loving me completely and unconditionally, and for sacrificing so much for me.

Thank you, Gary, for your example of thoughtfulness, for being really fun, and for teaching my husband how to treat his wife like a queen.

Thank you, Kevin, for putting our family first and for being the BEST example to our kids and so many others who are watching you.  Thank you for being my partner in life and in parenting.  You are a solid rock in my life and I am so thankful that I married you.

Happy Father's Day to you all!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Most Romantic Valentine's Date Ever (in which I lose control of my laughter....and other things.)

The story I'm about to tell, sadly, is true.  I am going out on a huge limb here because I am going to totally embarrass myself.  Hopefully some of you out there will understand.  To those who don't, I know that I will totally lose my coolness forever in your eyes.  If I ever had any to begin with.  At any rate, this story is too funny not to share....

Saturday was Valentine's Day here in Brazil.  I had a hot date planned with my hubby.  He went early and bought movie tickets for "The Back-up Plan" - just my kind of movie.  I got dressed up in a black skirt, black tights and black boots with a white blouse.  It all looked cute with my red jacket.

We arrived at the mall with about an hour to spare before the movie started.  The mall was really crowded - mostly with teenage couples it seemed, as I guess the adult couples were doing something much more sophisticated than seeing a movie at the mall.  Anyway, we were kind of in the mood for some American junk, so we headed to Burger King.  Yes, I know, not exactly Valentine's Day fare, but when you live in a foreign country, sometimes you just crave a good burger.  I enjoyed a double cheeseburger, fries and two cups of Coke Zero before we headed up to the theater.

We always get a little snack to munch on during the movie, so Kevin waited in line while I went to the restroom.  He got me some chocolate covered raisins and another drink - kind of a lemon-lime carbonated water.  We headed in to the theater.  This particular theater is kind of fancy - you actually choose the exact seats where you want to sit.  We always sit in the last two seats on the end of a row, but Bronwyn had run in the mall earlier to buy these tickets, and she chose two seats that were near the end, but still had seats on each side.

We sat down by a young couple, and then another young couple came and sat down on our other side.  After the movie got started, I leaned a little closer to the guy sitting beside me and got a whiff of some stinky body odor.  I was also smelling some wafts of bad breath.  I told Kevin that the guy beside me smelled bad. He said what do you mean?  I said BO and bad breath, too, I think.  I decided to stay closer to Kevin and not lean over anymore close to him.

The movie was really funny and I cracked up several times.  However, I really cracked up when I looked over at Kevin and he was pulling his jacket lapel up over his nose and leaning as close to me as possible.  I asked him why he was doing that.  He said, "Because the guy next to me has dog poop breath and every time he laughs or opens his mouth, he is killing me!".  So that must have been the wafts of bad breath that I was smelling.  It must have really been horrible for Kevin because he was right beside the guy.

After the movie was over, we headed down the aisle to leave.  I giggled again at the movie and especially when we talked about Kevin covering up his nose.  The more I talked about it, the funnier it got.  When I started giggling, I noticed that I really needed to go to the bathroom again.  The two Coke Zeroes and the lemon-lime drink were making laughing......well, difficult.  OK. I have had 6 kids and my muscles in that area do not lend themselves to laughing, running, jumping, sneezing, etc. on a full bladder.  I realized that I better turn the giggling off until I made it to the bathroom.

Except that I couldn't turn it off.  You know when you aren't supposed to be laughing, but you want to, it makes it that much harder not to?  Like when something funny happens in church or in a wedding.  So, the more I thought about not giggling, the more I wanted to giggle and I could only think of funny things like Kevin saying the guy had "dog poop breath".  I looked away from Kevin and tried to think of something else as I walked out of the theater, down the hall, and to the lobby where the bathroom was.

It was a battle, and as we entered the lobby which thankfully was crowded and dimly lit, I lost the battle and my giggles took over.  I completely lost control.  At that point, it was either laugh more, or cry.  I chose to laugh and hid behind Kevin as I made my way to the bathroom.  I have never been so glad that I wore black and had on black tights.  As I entered the bathroom, I saw that there was a line about 7 people deep.  I tried to put my purse in a strategic place so no one would notice anything.  I looked down and saw little "drops" on the toes of my boots!  Ugh.

Kevin was standing outside the door and he saw the long line.  He motioned for me to go to the family bathroom that was beside the women's.  It is really for moms with little kids, but I decided to go for it.  If someone asked me anything, I decided I would lie and tell them I was pregnant.  (Desperate times call for desperate measures.)  As I sloshed my way to the other bathroom, Kevin said he thought he saw streams running down my black boots.  He did.

Of course, the toilet paper at this theater is the little squares that come out one by one.  No worries.  I took off my tights and undies, and wiped down my legs and boots.  Did a little fast clean up job with hand cleaner gel that I had in my purse.  Then put on the boots again and wadded up my tights and undies in a paper towel and crammed them in my purse.  I went commando under my skirt, which would have been pretty sexy under other circumstances, I am told.

So there you have it.  If you could imagine a more romantic Valentine's Day date, I don't know what it would be.  I learned a few things - First, obviously, don't drink so much when you are going to see a funny movie.  Second - black tights, black skirt, and black boots are actually a good choice if you are planning on wetting your pants on your date. Since the lobby was crowded and pretty dark, I don't think anyone noticed little ole' wet me, except for maybe one girl in the bathroom who was giving me strange looks.  Oh well.   And Third - my valentine is truly wonderful.  He didn't flinch a bit and just laughed with me and told me he wasn't turned off by my little accident.  After all, I didn't get that weak bladder from nowhere and we have 6 great kids to thank for it.  I don't remember us saying "In sickness and in health, in wet pants and in dry pants......." during our wedding ceremony, but he is sticking by me just the same.  Good to know, even though I don't plan on repeating this scenario ever again!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

My Valentine....

Today is Valentine's Day in Brazil.

I am looking forward to a special date tonight.  My husband never lets special days go by unrecognized.  Birthdays, holidays, anniversaries are a big deal.  I love that.

I also love that he is funny, honest, a great dad, and my best friend.

This picture makes me smile....

This one makes me laugh.....

My valentine has an aversion to house-shoes.  So he wears this instead.  Nice....

Friday, June 11, 2010

Family Day (part 2)

After our fondue and chair lift ride, we did something really fun.

On the way in to the park where the chair lift ride was, we passed a little place that said "Fotos na Moda Antiga".  That means "Old-fashioned Pictures".

Since Bronwyn was the one choosing what we would do, and since Kevin and Garrett would NEVER agree to do something like that otherwise, she decided that we would do it.

So we stopped at this little place and a sweet girl, who was used to working with groups of 2, or 3-4 at the most, outfitted our WHOLE family in traditional gaucho clothes.

Garrett LOVED his blue pants....
Of course, Anderson really did love this.  Since he is really a Brazilian gaucho, he was proud to wear the traditional clothes. He not only dressed as a gaucho, he became one.  The whole time he was dressed up, he was asking me what chores he had to do on the farm.  I would give him a chore, he would go "do" it and come back and ask for another.  He split a lot of wood, milked a lot of cows and gathered berries for a pie.
The girls and I had a selection of lovely dresses.....
Giovanni doesn't enjoy changing clothes, but we got a shirt and pants on him.  (see how badly he needed a haircut?)
The handsome couple....
After we all got dressed, it was time to head on out to the oxen and wagon for our picture....
Here was our final photo:

We had a blast doing this.
Lots of silliness, laughter and fun.

After the photo shoot, we were going to look around in some shops, but there was tons of traffic (apparently half of Porto Alegre decided to go there for the holiday...), so we just headed home.

But it was a really fun day.  I hope we can have a few more fun family days before Bronwyn heads off to school.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Family Day

When we first moved to Brazil, we had a family day every Friday.  On that day, we would pick up the kids from school and then do something fun together as a family.  We would let each family member take turns choosing what we would do. That first year in Brazil was very hard, and I don't think we would have survived it without those family days.

Since then, the family day tradition has continued although we don't do it weekly.  But we all look forward to times that we set aside to do something together - just our family.

Last Thursday was a holiday here in Brazil.  Since Bronwyn will be leaving for college soon, we let her choose what we would do as a family.  We headed up to Gramado and Canela, our favorite little tourist towns in the mountains near Porto Alegre.

We had an awesome time.
The weather was great.  The kids got along (no fighting the whole day, yeah!).

We took a bunch of pictures, so I may only tell a little in this post and the rest later.

We drove into town around 11:45 and we were ready to eat.  Bronwyn (and the rest of us) wanted to eat FONDUE!  Fondue is very popular in Gramado and Canela, and we have our favorite place.  (because of the price - but it is really good, too).

Fondue comes in 3 parts - cheese, meat, and chocolate.  So yummy! (click here to read more about the fondue experience and watch a video in which I may or may not have licked chocolate off of a plate.)

Anyhoo, after the fondue yumminess Bronwyn (who HATES to choose what we will do) chose for us to ride the "teleferico" - a chair lift that takes you up and down a mountain with an awesome view of a beautiful waterfall.

We let Anderson ride with Garrett, although I was a little nervous about them playing around and someone falling out....

Ansley and Bronwyn rode together....

And Carys and I, although she wanted to ditch me and trade her chair lift ticket for a 20 second zip line that goes down the mountain.  If you know Carys the adventure queen, you are not surprised.  She is afraid of nothing.

Here is our failed attempt at the self timer photo shoot.  She was saying, "hurry, mom!.....then... Mom, mom, mom,  the camera already took the picture."

So we tried again with her setting up the camera.  She was a little faster than me at getting to the spot.  What!?  I had on slippery boots!

Here are our adoring fans watching us as we floated in on our chair.

After the chair lift, we did something we have never done before....and it was really fun!
More tomorrow.....

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Public Announcement

To all concerned parties:
Be hereby informed that the June Challenge aforementioned on this blog, is temporarily permanently cancelled.....

due to circumstances beyond our control (ahem).

Thank you,
Benay, Bronwyn, and Ansley

Monday, June 7, 2010


Our little ragamuffin's hair had been out of control for quite some time.  We have been saying for at least a month, "We need to take him up to the mall to get a haircut".

Well, we finally did it Saturday (the most crowded day at the mall, of course.)

Let's just say, He loved it.


He cried and screamed during the ENTIRE haircut.
I felt so sorry for the lady, but she said that she was used to it.  Some kids thrash around - at least he just screamed.

Oh well, it is good and short now, so this will last us for a while.

Poor baby.