THIS is why we're here.

Not everyone is cut out to be an expat.  It's only been a month, yet I can see clearly where problems may arise in the experience.  Between leaving your family and friends behind, and practically everything else you "know", be it language, customs, cuisine, or even how to fill up your car with gas, your pride is stripped away as you literally start from scratch in unknown territory.  So why would anyone be willing to go on such an adventure??  THIS is why:
Miss B brought home this picture from school this past week. She is 5 1/2 years old. You may not notice anything extraordinary about it, but I sure do! In the past her artwork has always been very predictable. Everyone had blonde hair and blue eyes. Just like her. So what do I see?  I see a little girl who has been immersed in CULTURE!  A girl who is embracing the beauty of diversity, and I am in awe! Three girls - perhaps a Brazilian, a Korean, and herself - just a sampling of what she sees in her class and on the playground each day. They speak English in the classes, but outside and at home they most often speak in their native tongues, yet all find a way to understand and love one another despite differing customs, beliefs, appetites and passions. What an amazing opportunity this is to open our eyes to all the world has to offer. I may not speak fluent Portuguese (yet!), know how to cook with all that I find at the grocery stores, or even see eye to eye with all of the cultural mindsets had here, but I can tell you one thing - I LOVE these people! There is so much we can learn from one another! People are friendly and SO willing to help. In fact, they won't leave your side until they are sure you've received all the help you could ever need! They LOVE children and have an abundance of patience for "childish ways". They part the aisles in the stores to let you go first if you have kids with you, and rather than shying away from a fussing child, people come rushing to your aid to try and make them happy again! Relationships are key and valued above all else. I feel so privileged to be in such an amazing and unique country. To learn from the people, try new things, and grow from our experiences. I thank the Lord that my kids are already embracing the people, the culture, and all this country has to offer! EU AMO AO BRASIL!!!


There's Always ONE

Horrible. Awful. Terrible. Nasty. Atrocious. Ghastly. Horrific. Repulsive. Dreadful. Upsetting. Shocking. Staggering. Unspeakable. Horrendous. Appalling. Unpleasant. Bad...  Really, I COULD go on, but for the sake of being a major downer I'll just go straight for the punch.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011.  The first day that made me weep like a baby and want to go home to a country that understands me.  Literally.  I never thought about it before, but a foreign language in essence, strips you of your personality.  In a moment where you would be witty, funny, sarcastic, or intellectual, you are stuck with the basic vocabulary of  a 2 year old.. if you're lucky!  "I'm sure they would like me if we could just TALK to one another!"..  yeah, every time I receive an eye roll or a wave of dismissal I remind myself to NEVER judge someone who doesn't speak my native tongue again!  Who knows, maybe they would be my sister friend?  Just because they can't talk to YOU doesn't mean they can't talk to ANYONE!  I once thought of myself as a fairly intelligent human being, but here, I'm as dumb as a slug in a marathon!  To be completely fair, I knew I had to have at least ONE of these, and since we celebrated our one-month anniversary here in São Paulo on Friday, might as well get it over with!

The day started with two sick babies.  Sir L woke up with a 103 fever, and Princess P wasn't too far behind.  Having 4 kids, it doesn't take much to recognize an ear infection anymore, but I knew I had to take them in to get prescriptions regardless.  Plus, it never hurts to make sure that's all it is!  Sweet hubby helped me make the call to the doctor since the receptionist and I couldn't communicate.  He wrote down the address and we all headed out to start the day.  I dropped Miss B and Mr H off at school and headed back home for a little down time before our appointment.  Somewhere between the motorcyclist hitting the side of my car (and driving off again.. what's up with that?!), and the crying babes in the back, I apparently got distracted because as we pulled into the basement garage and around the corner I heard the deafening sound of metal against cement as I rubbed the side of our van up against the wall!  Appalled and rather numb, I got out of the car to survey the damage...
In my defense, a minivan in Brazil is the equivalent to a BUS in the States.  Everything is not only made for cars here, but teeeeensy cars at that!  Parking spots, lanes, and YES, the entrance to my garage thank you VERY much!  That cement wall literally came out of nowhere!
At first glance, all I could do was cry.  I didn't know what that thing used to be, but it looked like some kind of an electronic gadget, and those are FAR from cheap in São Paulo...
Our poor van didn't exactly come out unscathed either.  It has a purty dent on the door and a scrape that made me feel it in my bones!  If this were MY car, I would be much more relaxed.  But this isn't my car.  This car belongs to my hubands work, and they so graciously lent it to me for the duration of our stay here... little did they know! :(
 Yellow it typically a bright and cheery color.  Wednesday, it was the color of doom.
Our head of maintenance for our building (along with other workers) came over to survey the damage with me.  My eyes welled with tears as they attempted to explain the extent of the problems I had caused and not a word they uttered had yet to be implanted in the small part of my cranium labeled "Portuguese".  Thankfully my new friend was on her way over to do some laundry, and although she isn't fluent either, her abilities far outweigh my own, so she was able to get the gist of the conversation:  "That "thing" you took out was the sensor.  The garage door is now out of order until further notice.  We will bill you after the mechanic bills us.  Oh, and have a nice day!"  Riiiight.

Calling my dear husband, I had flashbacks to guilty moments as a 16yr old about to tell mom and dad about something REEAAALLY stupid I had done.  But of course, since it was Wednesday, August 17, 2011 and everything was bound and determined to go wrong, I heard his cell phone ring.. in the house.  Of course, TODAY is going to be the day he accidentally leaves his phone home.  I didn't have his office number programmed into my phone so was forced to wait for him to realize his error and call me.  Thankfully he is a VERY sensitive and PATIENT man.  But that somehow made it worse.  At least if you yell at me and tell me how dumb I am I can get defensive and get over it!  But all I was left with was my guilt.  Multiplied!

Off to the doctor we go.  With the help of my trusty navigation system, I made it to the street with time to spare.  But what about that building number?  After 45 minutes of driving up and down the street, I was notified that the address had been written down wrong.  Please add an extra "8" in there.. that would be #887, NOT 87.  BIG difference.  A total of 2 hours later we arrive.  VERY late, but hey, this is Brazil!  Who isn't late?!  At this point we are so exhausted we don't even realize the "medical" building we are entering looks like it came straight out of the pages of National Geographic.  And I don't mean that as a compliment.  But the doctor apparently spoke English, so I was holding on to that.  The receptionist however, did not.  She handed me papers to fill out that I couldn't read.  Then we were escorted into the "office".  Papers and garbage strewn everywhere. Dated supplies.  Little space to move let alone breathe.  A tiny exam bed in the corner with a sheet that hadn't been changed for at least the past 50 kids.  All I could think of was what we would contract in that room and I wanted out.  FAST!  After a 10 minute discussion and "exam" that consisted of looking in their ears and mouth (Sir L indeed had a double ear infection as I predicted, but Princess P hadn't progressed enough to determine what she had.. "Just bring her back tomorrow".. say what?!).  NO temperature was taken even though I explained they were feverish.  I mentioned that Sir L had a 103 temp, but since that's Fahrenheit and they use Celsius here that didn't seem to sink in, let alone cause reason for alarm.  Exasperated, we headed back to the reception desk to collect our bill and go home.  The receptionist told me the amount I owed.  I didn't understand.  "Por favor escreva."  She wrote it down. R$1000.  Holy pooh!  I swallowed hard and reached for my card.  "Não crédito."  Okay... "Débito?"  "Não. Dinheiro."  "Dinheiro??  TODOS??"  "Sim."  This is when my heart starts to race as I realize I only have R$400 in my wallet, and that's a GOOD day!  This is Sao Paulo for crying out loud!  Who carries R$1000 around?!  So I did what any worn out, confused, bothered, and now SCARED woman would.  I cried.  Like a baby I cried!  I called my husband only to reach everyone in the office but him.  Some spoke English.  Some did not.  Normally I would try to be patient, calm, and endearing, but I forgot all that while I was trying to hold on to any dignity I had left and NOT let his entire office know I was completely losing it.  "Your husband is in a meeting."  Of course he is.  "Could you please tell him to call me?  I have a problem at the doctors' office and really need his help."  The next 20-30 minutes or so were filled with tears, screams, and unwanted bystander attention.  I fought desperately to hold it together as people tried to "help" since at this time my kids had started losing it right along with me.  We looked like one big sick, emotional American mess!  FINALLY I received a call back, and a saintly man from my husbands' office made a funds transfer over the phone so I could go home.

Once in the safety of my car, sounds escaped me that I didn't know I had the ability to produce.  The combination of humiliation, desperation, and frustration made me unable to form words as my husband and I were finally able to "talk" on the phone.  I sobbed like they do on the movies when loved ones die or homes burn to the ground.  It didn't last very long, maybe 15 or 20 seconds before I pulled myself back together again, but it was long enough to make me want to curl up in bed and stay there until the morning came!  I was beat.  Not knowing where a drug store was, or how I was to even ask for the medication, I went straight home.  Defeated, and emptyhanded.  My sweet husband cancelled the rest of his day (it was 5pm) so he could make sure I didn't end up in the looney bin.
He came home with distressed eyes as he exclaimed he had never heard me cry that hard in all of our 7 years of marriage... and we've been through a LOT!  On the bright side?  Not many women recieve flowers on the day they take out the company car...
He picked up the medicine, put the kids to bed, and held me until I fell asleep.  Turns out Peyton had ring worm, but she's now on an anti fungal cream and although it takes 4 weeks to cure completely, we are now officially (QUICK! knock on wood!) fever, and tear free!  Needless to say Google diagnosed her as I rejected the offer to "bring her back tomorrow".  A friend provided the ointment, as well as an EXCELLENT English speaking doctor referral.  And Thursday?  Why it was blessedly uneventful! :)


Dirty Feet

When we first arrived in Brazil almost 4 weeks ago, we walked into our new apartment and got our first taste of city pollution.  All over the floor there was black dust.. almost like soot, and it covered our feet in minutes.  So, I did what any natural mom/homemaker would, and I went to town cleaning the place!  It had just been cleaned too, but I assumed myself and whoever cleaned it originally had very different ideas of what "clean" is.  Boy was I wrong!  Turns out you have to mop your floor daily if you want to keep this guck off your feet.  Not sure about any of you, but I just don't have that much extra time on my hands (or desire really)!
What to do, what to do?  Enter Amazing V.  After MUCH debate (and my setting aside some major pride - realizing that you aren't a failure if you accept help was a hard concept for me to grasp!), we decided to go Brazilian and hire a full-time housekeeper.  She officially started today after a test run last Friday and may I say.. WOW!  For the first time in my mommy life, I get to be what I originally thought I signed up for.. a MOM!  Instead of getting out craft materials to keep the kids busy so I can get everything done, I am doing crafts WITH them.  Amazing.  It's incredible what an endlessly clean house does to your spirits!  The kids and I were able to play and just be together, which is quite easy when you don't have to stress about an endless to-do list.  Now THIS is being a mom!

Amazing V already feels like a part of the family to me.  She ADORES the kids, and they LOVE her!  Since she doesn't speak English, we are already mastering charades and she is helping me practice Portuguese.  I tell you she can find dirt in places I never would have known to look.. truly.  I sense the begining of a long and fruitful relationship!  She's also providing handsome hubby and I with a date night once a week!  EU AMO O BRASIL!!! :)


Brazilian Dads Unite!

While in transition, Hottie Hubster found himself in Brazil, and us in Utah during Father's Day this year.  It was SO hard for me to celebrate without him!  Brazil heard of my tears and told me not to worry.. TODAY IS FATHER'S DAY!!! :) 

Honestly, I am SO stoked about this!  We got to give the man of the house breakfast in bed, the kids made crafts at school for him, and I got to give him a few things too.  Father's day is MUCH better in person!  THANK YOU BRAZIL!!! :)
*Apparantly you're supposed to have your flash on in our room.. sorry about the poor quality shots. :(  This is a die cast Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe (for those of you that speak car), that I got him for his office.  Crazy car loving man that he is! ;)
What a fun day it's been so far spoiling this beloved man of ours!  I have yet to meet such an awesome husband and father.  I LOVE YOU B!!! ;)

Feeling Adventurous

Yesterday we embarked on an adventure.. OUT of the main city!  SOO daring of us, I know!  About 1.5hrs away from us lies the Atlantic coastline.  We went to one of the many beaches available to us and fell utterly in love!  The drive through the mountains to get there was superb.  The crowds were definitely manageable.  The sand?  Like silk I tell you!  And the water beautifully clear.  Why it's taken us 3 1/2 weeks to adventure out here is beyond me!  ..Okay, I admit it, I was nervous about scantily clad women bearing down (and baring all!) on us, but really, after I scoped out an "innocent" family friendly location we didn't have any issues.  No nervous, self conscious daughters.  No peering, overly attentive sons.  Just LOTS of time for one another!  Smell that?  That would be the sweet aroma of SUCCESS!!!
After about 5 minutes of letting the water tickle our toes, Princess P was taken out by a wave!  To make matter worse, her horrid mother forgot her swimsuit.. BAD MOM! :(  Needless to say she was less than impressed with the ocean.  That, coupled with a saggy daiper and clingy wet clothes = a less than adventurous little girl!
The poor thing was happy to sit and watch with me for a bit after that spill!  *Don't mind sir Speedo in the back.. Bem-vindo ao Brasil! ;)
The boys ran to and from the waves for over an hour!  They had so much fun together, my cheeks hurt from smiling as I watched them go back and forth!
Miss B of course, made a friend right away.  If I could bottle up diversity and keep it in my living room to stare at, I WOULD!  I love that they can't even communicate, but who needs to talk when you can just play?!
 An amazing view of the city created the ultimate backdrop for an awesome day!
Sir L was all smiles and had quite the crowd cooing after him.  "OI!  Que lindo!!!  Lindo, lindo, LINDO!  Tchau lindo!"
My wonderful hubby was AMAZING with the kids and somehow kept everyone from drowning pretty much solo as I took the pictures and laughed. :)  What a good man!
Princess P slowly started testing out the water again until she was sure it wouldn't take her feet out from under her!
Once she was certain she was in control once more, she was OFF!
Seeing that it is "winter" here I opted out of bringing a swimsuit.  I even had on a sweater at one point!  But after an hour of perfect mid-80 degree weather, I ditched the long sleeves.  Still a little too cold for me to want to jump in the water, but the kids sure didn't mind!
 We took minor breaks from the ocean to play in the silky sand.
It was a PERFECT day, topped off with a cherry on the way home.. well really it was a tooth. ;)  Miss B is officially growing up whether I approve or not!



Before you think to yourself that this was a waste of blogger space and valuable time, consider this:  In my world, there is water, and there is milk.  That's all.  "Tickly juice" aka pop/soda is not something I particularly enjoy (unless I have a major headache), and juice in general makes me feel sick and desperate for a toothbrush.  That being said, I DO crave a good glass of fresh orange juice like any person with good taste.  But aside from the occasional morning OJ, I am very loyal to my main two squeezes!

Enter Sao Paulo.  Where milk comes in boxes that have a nervously long shelf life and don't need to be refrigerated until opened.  Does it taste the same?  I think not.  Disguised in a bowl of cereal it's definitely manageable, but the real question is this:  "Is it chug worthy?"  We're talking the kind of milk you want so badly that you can't possibly take the time to pour it in a glass.  Rip off the top and get 'er done milk!  Sadly, boxed milk just doesn't doesn't cut it for me.  I tried it in all it's many forms (whole, light, skim) and about half a dozen different brands too.  Just when I thought all hope was lost, I spotted it.  In a teensy little section in the refrigerated isle.  Liter jugs of REFRIGERATED milk!  Could this be it?  I wasn't sure.  I bought only two liters just in case and sped home trying not to get too excited if it turned out it wasn't MY milk.  I ripped of the top and took a tiny sip preparing for the worst, but the worst never came.  I tell you my heart RACED as I chugged 1/2 the bottle and forced myself to save the rest.  Is it more expensive?  Yes.  Is it worth every penny?  YES!  My boys and Princess P LOVE the boxed milk.  Kudos to them.  As for me, Miss B and adored hubby.. we shall drink the jugs.  And we'll enjoy every last drop!  THIS is milk the way it was meant to be!!!  (*This is NOT a paid advertisement.  However if Xando wanted to use this, I'd be flattered! ;) ...sorry Parmalat.  No hard feelings.)
In the SAME shopping trip, and almost as important, I was also able to communicate well enough to get lunch meat (okay, really I played charades and asked 5 or so people if they spoke English so they could help me get lunch meat, but, who cares?!).  Sliced turkey breast that I thought I'd never see again.  Straight from the deli might I add!  I asked for 1.5 kilos but they looked at me like I asked them to catch a stray and give me it's hind quarters so I could feed it to my children raw.  Turns out Brazilians don't eat that much sliced meat.  I see packages with literally 6 slices of super thin meat displayed all pretty and all I can think is.. dude, that would make like, HALF a sandwich in my house!  They ended up giving me half a kilo, sure that I couldn't possibly want 1.5 kilos.  I figured I'd take it and make sure it was good first anyways...  Peyton beat me to the punch.  Somehow in the cart she opened the package and went to town!  Apparently she's been missing sliced turkey breast too.  Milk AND turkey breast?!  What more could a girl want?  (Okay, maybe some chocolate, but now I'm just sounding like a spoiled Americano!)  I say this was one successful shopping trip! :)
*Notice the price label.  Does that say R$14,99 for .5 kilo??  Why yes it does.  But that my friends, is a whole other post!

Birthday Boy

My little man is not so little anymore! Mr H turned FOUR this past Monday and I'd be lying if I said my heart didn't skipped a few beats.. The day started with breakfast in bed (OF COURSE!), and sweet Hunter was more than happy to share with everyone (no surprise there!). :)
We had to give him SOMETHING to start the day off right.. he was ecstatic to see more cars to play with!
When he mentioned a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, I was all over it as chocolate is in short supply here! So we happily broke into our "emergency supply" that we brought over from the states. :)
Then it was time for the unwrapping of the gifts.. accept since we don't have any wrapping paper yet we were forced to get creative and made due with blankets. :) He didn't seem to mind.. lets be honest, it's what's in them that his sights were set on! He was spoiled with books, popsicle molds, "orange" clothes (it's the color of the year you know!), and giant soft play dinosaurs. All this made for one HAPPY birthday boy!!!
Of course he got the family hook up too while we were visiting in Utah last month. He asked for a specific party for the first time so of course we HAD to do it! The theme was... ORANGE. Orange cake, orange balloons, orange, food, even "orange water". Of course we also added the world's largest orange silly string fight (36 cans of silly string!), and an orange water balloon fight too! It was great to see everyone, and Mr H got spoiled royally! :)

Here's the little flirt with his Aunt Tawna:
Miss B and Grandma R at the orange buffet table :) It was hard coming up with an orange menu.. we had macaroni & cheese, chicken nuggets, carrots and dip, cheese balls, cantaloupe & tang.
Grandma R made the fantastic orange dinosaur cake! THANKS GRANDMA!!! :)
There was plenty of love to go around :)
All in all, I think it's safe to say he had a GREAT birthday! I am so thankful for this little man in my life. Always ready to give a compliment, a kiss, and a flower, he will someday make one special lady VERY happy.. right now I'm just happy that lady is me! :) LOVE YOU BUD!!!


Nervous Laughter

It's ironic really.  I was just telling my new girlfriends yesterday how when I get super nervous or anxious about something I start laughing.  Not just your normal laughter either.  We're talking a full on body convulsion with tears streaming from the eyes.  Crazy person laughter.  TOTALLY inappropriate at times and yet I don't seem to have enough control over myself to stop it when it starts.  We're working on that...

Yesterday was supposed to be easy.  My girlfriend showed up at 9:30am to watch the two younger babes while I took the two older to school orientation.  First official day of school in Brazil was today.  I may or may not have shed a few tears (NOT accompanied by laughter).  Orientation went superbly well!  I adore both Miss B and Sir H's teachers. 

DEFINITELY the highlight of the day meeting the two of them! :)

Afterwards I went back to the apartment and after a play date I drove my girlfriend home.  Technically this should have been a 20 minute drive.  An hour and a half later we finally arrived at her flat.  Sao Paulo traffic is splendid I tell you.  Splendid.  After a brief visit and potty breaks at their place (apparently I need to tell my son AGAIN that bidets are NOT urinals!) we took off, set to be home by about 6:30-7:00ish which was later than I had originally planned what with their big day and all today, but still workable.  We had a lovely view of the bumpers of other cars, STOPPED might I add, throughout the entire drive.  They have these crazy motorcycle riders out here that zoom through the cars at ridiculous speeds.  No shocker that 470 died in Sao Paulo alone just last year!  The locals call them "crazy dogs" and now I know why.. one of the suckers completely side swiped our car while we were at a standstill leaving a beautiful scrape from tail to nose.  The best part is he turned around (thereby acknowledging that he knew it happened.. not sure how anyone could have missed it really) and took off in a flash!  We passed two motorcycle-to-car crashes on the way home which is the reason I assume for us not reaching home plate until 9:10pm.  Despite my annoyance with the "crazy dog" who took out the side of my vehicle, NO I did not wish either rider was him.
Upon arrival at home the kids and I were excited to get inside and cook dinner and get some zzz's.  Sadly enough our excitement turned to disbelief when I realized my house key (which I gave to my friend when she had to make a run up to my apartment earlier), I neglected to get back...  Hubby had a LOONG day at the office and was just heading home so we were stuck in our entry way.  We all nestled down for a "party" while we waited for daddy to come home, when the motion censored lights turned off.  For the next while until he showed up everyone in our building was treated to periodic screams followed by hysterical laughter as we kept trying to move around the tiny space to keep the lights on.

Then, my knight in shining pant suit arrived to let us inside.  It was now 9:30pm and we were itching to get the kids in bed before our bright and early day this morning.  I told him to strip the kids and get them in the shower while I made a super easy dinner (instant oatmeal).  So strip he did.  (The kids I mean.. get your mind out of the gutter!)  One little foot reached into the shower when suddenly the water turned off.  "Honey?!  What did you do to the water??"  Whatever.  I brace myself for a "Just kidding, I couldn't help myself!".. but it never comes.  He heads downstairs to talk to the maintenance staff only to be told that they are working on it and it'll be back in 3 hours.  WHAT?!  At this point we just start laughing.  Hysterically.  With tears streaming down my face I am brought into reflections from that Mary Poppins scene when everyone is floating up by the ceiling.  I think each one of those sounds passed my lips at one point or another as I tried to regain control of my being.  Wow.  So off the kids went to bed at 10:00pm.  Dirty.  Tired.  And anything but ready to wake up at 6:30am this morning for their first day of school.

But alas, miracles DO happen as I woke my kids up today by handing their naked selves to my hubby in the shower and they somehow came out with smiles on their faces!  Thank you adrenaline for getting us all through this very unique and unanticipated first day of school. ;P