Monday, August 30, 2010

Fun at the Lake

While I was visiting with my in-laws in the states, we took a quick trip to their house on Pickwick Lake.  It was fun and relaxing.
There was boating......
At this point I will inform you that the rest of the pictures on this post will be just of Giovanni.  Because he is cute, because I don't want to show my 17 year old daughter in her bathing suit on the internet, and because I surely don't want to show myself in my bathing suit on the internet (for different reasons than her, if you know what I mean...)
At one point, we stopped at a little beach and got out and swam and ate a little snack.  Giovanni took off for a little walk on his own....
And since he was alone, guess what he did? (here is a hint)
This face pretty much says it all....
So, as he had his "private time", all the adults stood around saying "how cute", laughing and taking pictures.
Oh well, he didn't seem to mind.
Thanks, Grandmommy and Papa for a fun day!

Friday, August 27, 2010


I have been on a trip.  At the beginning of August, Ansley, Giovanni and I flew to the US to take Bronwyn to college.  After a fun visit with my parents in Huntsville, we went to Memphis (where Kevin's parents live) and then drove to ACU.  Here is that little journey in photos.....

Here is our little group leaving early on Friday morning.  

Gracie and Bronwyn were all smiles early in the morning.
Ansley and I.... (with Bronwyn in the background.  She just had to get in the shot...)  These pictures were taken in the morning.  I know because we had 8 hours of driving and I know we weren't that excited any other time during that trip.
We finally reached Dallas, where we spent the night with our friends the Terrys.  Look at who was waiting for us.....
Sweet little Kira
and her big sister, Elisa.  We loved playing with them and catching up with Sascha and Jennifer.

The only bad thing that happened was that Ansley got sick during the night.  Nevertheless, we left Gracie there to stay with the Terrys for a while and set out the next morning for Abilene.
This pretty much sums up what the scenery is from Dallas to Abilene.  Flat roads and pick up trucks.
You know you are in Texas when you pass the Lone Star Cowboy Church.  Interesting.....
Poor little Ansley.  She loaded up on 2 Dramamines and slept the whole way in the back seat.
We finally made it to Bronwyn's dorm to move in.  This is the view from her window.
Decorating ensued....
Here is Bronwyn's roommate, Asia.  She is from Thailand and she and Bronwyn seem to be getting along great.
After a few days of work and lots of orientation meetings, Bronwyn's room was complete (sort of), she had her books and her schedule, and it was time for us to go.
Cool decorations hanging from the ceiling.  Not your typical dorm room.
Asia made this collage for Bronwyn and a matching one for herself.  Really cool.
Bronwyn's desk.
The worst part was saying good-bye.  Ansley and Bronwyn pose for one last photo.
And a tearful hug for mom.  After this, she shooed us out of her room.  Then I'm sure 10 minutes later she was fine because since then it has just been new and fun and exciting things to do and learn.  

ACU is a great place and we are so excited Bronwyn is there.  We are also excited that she has a return ticket to Brazil marked for the middle of December!  Four months will pass by really quickly, right??

Sunday, August 15, 2010

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say,
 "I used everything you gave me."

Erma Bombeck

I can't stop thinking about this quote.
So Profound.  So Convicting.  So Biblical.

Take some time, as I have the last few days, to think about abilities, talents, blessings that you have.
Now, think about why you aren't using every last drop of those things to bless others.
Embarrassment?  Pride?  Laziness?  Excuses?  Time?  Traditions?  Anger?

Let's let go of whatever is keeping us from using our talents and gifts.
There is a lot of work to be done.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Giovanni at the Pool

My sister in law has a pool, and since it is SUPER hot here, we went swimming one afternoon.

I had bought Giovanni a little floatie thing so he could (hopefully!) be a little more independent at the pool this summer in Brazil.  If not, you know who will be either holding him or chasing him or fussing at begging another kid to hold him or chase him for a while.

This was our first day to try it out.  I didn't even let him get in the water without the turtle thing because I was afraid he wouldn't want to put it on.  Maybe he will think it is part of his bathing suit...?

At first he was scared.  Didn't want to let go of anyone.  At one point he even started really crying hard because he was so scared.  I didn't get him out, just gave him his paci.

Then slowly he started loosening his grip on us a little and feeling more relaxed in the water.

He started "swimming" from one sister to the other.

Afterward we would clap and cheer for him.  He liked that.

Then he started really enjoying the water and getting his face wet a little.
(This is my favorite picture of the day.   He's not crying, he's just having fun.)

Finally, he was brave enough to float on his own.
Notice his "CARS" toys which he held on to the whole time (unless he was throwing them to the bottom of the pool for the girls to fetch...)

It was a great first day of swimming this year for him!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My Husband's Birthday Gift

Today I got my husband's birthday gift.

I mean, I GOT my husband's birthday gift.

As in I didn't buy it, I received it.

Look what he I got.....

My mixer was dying a slow, painful, noisy, scary death.  Even though I knew I needed a new one, I couldn't bring myself to spend the money.

But my husband, whose birthday is in a few weeks secretly got in touch with my parents and his parents and asked them to use his birthday money to buy me a mixer.

Who does that?  My awesome husband, that's who.

Thank you, honey.
I LOVE it, and I REALLY love you.
I'll thank you better when I get back home.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Happy Father's Day

Today is Father's Day in Brazil.

My husband is a great dad.  Here are some of the reasons why.....

He enjoys his kids.  He plays with them.  He genuinely sees his kids as blessings from the Father and never rushes through his time with them.  He sees the importance of spending time together.

He is a great example to them of what a husband is supposed to be.  Our relationship as husband and wife is second only to his relationship with God.  I am so thankful that our kids are growing up seeing this.  I can't think of any gift more important than a strong marriage that parents can give to their children.

He loves to make memories as a family.  He much rather spend money on a vacation or even just a family day trip or outing than any toy, gadget, or other "stuff".  Our kids all have treasure banks of memories of times our family has spent together.

He accepts his God-given role as spiritual leader of our family.  He consistently studies, reads, prays and examines himself to become even more the person that God intends for him to be.  He is not afraid to really live his faith - no matter what anyone else may say or think.  Another way he is a great example.

He understands his role in our ministry to be a "spiritual father" - whether they be single college students or young husbands and fathers.  Yet, he does all of this not viewing these guys as ministry objects, but as friends.  He genuinely enjoys every minute that he spends with them.

For these reasons and many more he is an incredible dad.

Happy Father's Day Kevin!  I wish we could all be together today.  I love you!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Best Ever Barbecue Sauce

My dad's specialty is grilled pork chops.  Every time we visit he makes them for us and we all talk about how good they were until our next visit and we can eat them again.

Last night we feasted on barbecue pork chops and boneless ribs (something new, but so good!), corn on the cob, fried okra, speckled butter beans, and cornbread.  With sweet tea. Yum.  These are some of my favorite foods.

Tonight we ate the leftover pork chops and ribs with baked potatoes and salad.  Yum again.

I thought I would share my dad's barbecue sauce recipe.  It is delicious. He marinated the meat in some of the sauce, then brushed more sauce on as the meat was cooking.

Here it is....

Best Ever Barbecue Sauce
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup melted butter or margarine
1/2 cup vinegar
1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup finely diced onion
1/4 cup worcestershire sauce (molho inglês in Brazil)
2 teaspoons hot sauce (molho de pimenta)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or red pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground oregano
1/8 teaspoon chili powder

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan; bring mixture to a boil.  Lower heat, and simmer 10 minutes.  Use with chicken, pork chops, or ribs.  Yield 2 1/2 cups.

This recipe was submitted by Mrs. Maxine Compton from Austin, Texas to Southern Living magazine.  

P.S.  I just realized that my daughter's new computer that I am using doesn't have a slot to read a camera card.  I didn't bring my connecting cords from Brazil on this trip, so now I can't download any pictures!  Sadness!!!  I may have to look into getting a card reader.....

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Drama

From the swarmingly full ocean of the Miami airport, comes a drama of a mom, a daughter, and a toddler who lost their friend, Grace, and went to great depths to find her......

On Tuesday evening, we left Porto Alegre for our trip to the states - Ansley, Giovanni, and I with our friend Grace (pronounced Gracie).  It was all smooth sailing as we arrived in São Paulo and made our connection to our overnight flight to Miami.  And, besides the 11:00 PM - 2:30 AM playtime that the toddler insisted upon having during the night, that flight went as well as can be expected.  We arrived in Miami and began the trek through halls, up and down escalators, on and off those flat escalators (people movers??), and eventually to the customs lines.  Then, the drama began.  Here are the highlights.

*The lines for customs are divided.  Americans in certain lines, foreigners in others.  So our little group had to separate.  This had also happened in São Paulo, but we met up again on the other side of the line.  We assumed that it would be the same here.  After Ansley, Giovanni, and I went through, we looked for Grace.  We couldn't see her, so we decided just to wait at the area after the line.  Apparently this was a no-no because a customs agent made us move on to the next area.

*The next area was where you got your luggage.  We waited a little and looked for Grace, but didn't see her.  Didn't see her luggage either.  We thought that she had probably gone on through and would be waiting for us in the next area.  If not, we would wait for her.

*We handed off our luggage to make the connecting flight, and arrived in a waiting area with a huge glass wall.  We decided to wait there for Grace to arrive.  We waited......we waited......  She didn't show up.  There was a flight attendant there who had been on our flight.  He suggested that perhaps Grace had already gone ahead, thinking that we had been ahead of her.  He reminded us that we still had to go through the security check in, which could take a while, before making it to the gate for our connecting flight that was going to be leaving soon.

*We decided to go on through the security and hope to see Grace waiting for us at the next gate.  Besides Giovanni making a break for his freedom during the check in, it was OK - just a hassle that took a while (taking off shoes, etc.)  We hurried to the gate for the next flight. Grace wasn't there.

*At this point, my nervousness starts heading toward panic.  Giovanni was tired and grouchy (3 1/2 hour playtime in the middle of the night and his breakfast of M&M's was not helping....) and Ansley and I were scared.  We had no idea what had happened to her or where she was.  Our options were:

  1. go ahead and get on our flight to Nashville - even though we didn't know anything about Grace and she didn't know how to get in touch with anyone in Nashville or Huntsville - where we would be staying with my parents.
  2. not take our flight.  The only other available flight in which we were guaranteed a seat was at 9:45 at night.  Giovanni in an airport until 9:45.......not fun.  It was around 8:00 AM at that time.
  3. Ansley and Giovanni take the flight to Nashville, I stay behind and find out about Grace.  Then Grace and I come on a later flight.
Ansley wanted option 2.  I wanted option 3.  Option 1 wasn't an option in my book since I had no idea where Grace was and I couldn't bear the thought of leaving her behind.  

*We try to make a decision about what to a very crowded waiting room......with Giovanni crying and throwing toys......with Ansley on the verge of tears......and me not far behind.  I finally convinced her to go, hurriedly gave her phone numbers, and handed her a wad of cash.  She ran out the door literally at the last minute with Giovanni wailing for me.  Fun times.....

*  I go to a pay phone to try to call my parents.  (We have cell phones, but they don't work in the US.)  My parents' phone is programmed not to accept collect calls, so I start digging out coins.  A nice man nearby sees me and offers me his cell phone.  I almost start bawling at his niceness...  I call my dad and do start bawling, explaining to him what has happened.  He leaves home to meet Ansley and Giovanni and I promise to call back when I find out about Grace.

* I set off to return to the customs area.  A homeland security officer gave me confusing directions (apparently I don't understand English anymore) and I ended up lost.  After a little wandering around trying to find my way, I decide to go to the American Airlines counter and describe my problem.  After tearfully explaining what had happened to an AA worker, she pointed out a man in a suit who was the head of AA for the whole airport.  I wasted no time in approaching him.

* He was very nice - his dad was Brazilian.  He called the AA agents who worked near the customs office.  Even though they are given NO information about a passenger unless the passenger is being deported, they managed to find out that Grace had been detained for questioning.  They told me she was still there and that it could take a few hours.  I decided to wait for her in the glass walled waiting area again.  

* I waited for almost 2 hours.  I know because they announced the time on the loud speaker every 15 minutes.  I prayed a lot - for Ansley and Giovanni on the flight and for Grace, imagining her in a Nazi-like interrogation.  After a while, I decided to take matters into my own hands and return to the AA agents who had found out where Grace was to begin with.  Another no-no.  Couldn't pass by the security guard.  So, I waved my arms behind the glass wall until the agent noticed me.  She said, "She should have already been down here....something is wrong."  Gulp.

* She called to check again and found out that Grace had been gone for a long time.  Gone where?  Sent on to the next gate, they told me.  How I missed her, I don't know - unless it was when I was wandering around lost.  Whatever.   I hurried on to the next gate.  Through security again.....

*When I arrived at the gate (crowded waiting room).  I didn't see Grace.  I explained the situation to another AA agent who paged Grace.  I took a few steps and saw her at the bottom of the escalator that led to our waiting area.  RELIEF!!  We hugged and exchanged stories.  She had been questioned for about 45 minutes about what she would be doing in the US, how much money she brought, and about all the contents of her backpack.

*We called my dad who had successfully retrieved Ansley and Giovanni in Nashville.  Ansley had been a great "mommy" to Giovanni on the flight (the stewardess really thought she was his mom). And she managed to hold in her tears until she cried with releif when she saw Bronwyn in the airport.  It had been a tense day and we were all operating on very little sleep.

*The rest of the drama is quite boring in comparison.  Grace and I set up camp on the "comfortable" seats in the waiting area for our next flight.  We talked, read, watched TV, watched people (mainly people going and coming from the Bahamas...) and dozed off every now and then.  We were so happy when we found out that we got a seat on a flight leaving Miami at 4:00 - much better than 9:45!

It was a drama, but with a happy ending.  I am so thankful for the kind American Airlines agents who helped us as much as they could.  And for the nice man who lent me his cell phone.  And for my dad and Bronwyn who rushed to the airport to meet Ansley so she wouldn't be scared.  And for Ansley taking on a big responsibility in a tense and difficult situation.  And for Grace who showed more courage and faith than I did, and never really panicked. 

I was especially grateful to God as I waited in the glass-walled waiting room thinking of Grace and of Ansley and Giovanni and knowing that I, in that moment, could do nothing for them.  But I knew that God was watching out for all of us.  I reminded myself to expect a blessing.

**Anyone interested in the screen rights to this story, please contact me through e-mail or this blog.  Thank you.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Leaving Town...

This afternoon at 6:00, Ansley, Giovanni and I (along with our friend, Gracie) will leave Porto Alegre to go to the states.  I am going for the purpose of taking Bronwyn to school.  Her grandparents have done a good job spoiling her for a few weeks.

My bags are packed - mostly.  I still have a few stray items to find and put in.  (Oh by the way, I hate packing.  It ranks right up there with cleaning out the refrigerator and potty training in my list of things I don't like....)  I could have packed yesterday, but since I hate it so, I put it off until I had a deadline, which seems to make me work better.

Giovanni has been really grouchy the past few days. It could be because he was used to having all his brothers and sisters around everyday, and now they are back to school.  Or it could be because Friday night he had a stomach virus and even though he isn't throwing up now, he doesn't seem 100% yet.  Whatever the reason, I hope he puts his happy face on for our trip.  I don't want to be THAT lady who can't get her baby to stop screaming on the plane....

Incidentally, Friday night when I was up off and on during the night with Giovanni being sick, I prayed that he would get better and that I wouldn't get it.  I can't imagine having a virus on an overnight flight.  Do you know what worried me the most?? That if I threw up on the plane, I would wet my pants.  Because I can't throw up and hold in pee at the same time.  Not possible.  So wet pants on an overnight flight would be really gross.  I laid in bed and thought up all the different scenarios of how I would handle this situation if it did happen.  So, I am prepared, just so you know.

Well, enough procrastinating by blogging instead of packing.  Must go and finish up.
See ya later!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Toy Story and Star Wars

Have you taken your kids to see Toy Story 3?
I haven't.
Here it is dubbed.  Woody and Buzz speaking portuguese in strange voices just wouldn't quite be the same.
It does come on in English at 10:00 at night, but our kids who would be most into Toy Story can't make it to a 10:00 movie.  (I'm not sure their mom could either!)
So, we will just wait until it comes out on DVD.

We did get to have a little Toy Story fun, though.  The mall had a Toy Story play area set up for kids.  They let a certain number of kids in at a time, and let them play for 20 minutes.  Carys, Anderson, and Giovanni had a lot of fun.

Here is a video of what they did......

Another mall here in town had a Star Wars play area set up. Only this one was much cooler.  It was a Jedi Training Academy.  Anderson met up with a friend of his from school, and they went through the academy.  You'll see from the pictures that Anderson LOVED it.  He is really into pretending, so this was right up his alley.

The kids went back to school today after their 2 week winter break.  So much for the goofing off and playing around.  Back to our busy school schedule - until December!