You know those Christmas mornings when after all is said and done the kiddos are more intrigued by the boxes the toys came in than the toys themselves??  Well, this was NOT one of those Christmas mornings!!!  I am proud to say that we hit the nail EXACTLY on the head this year with Leap Pads (a child's version of an ipad) for Bailey, Hunter & Landon, while Peyton got a active play climber.  I DESPISE mindless video games - sorry Angry Birds! - and feel like a better mom when my kids are at least learning something while I let them play for who knows how long! :)  Turns out these Leap Pads are also great bribing tools.. Children are suddenly going to sleep without countless attempts to sneak out! Wonderful.

Now with all the brain workouts they've been getting on their new "Pads", I had to include something for their bodies too right?? Enter "Just Dance Kids". L-O-V-E. Truly. There are no words for how stinking cute they are to watch while attempting to bust their new moves!!! Landon (quite characteristically) stands there and stares at everyone else like we're all insane, but aside from that, we've all been getting in on the fun! :) 
I hope everyone had as great of a day as we did!  Minus the fact that our Vonage phone didn't work (see http://minutesformama.blogspot.com/2011/12/counseling.html), it was a PERFECT day!!!  MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!!! :)



Dear Vonage Phone,

I hate you.  It probably isn't your fault - I'm sure in the good ole US of A you would perform without the slightest of problems.  Maybe you are out of your comfort zone here, I don't know, but after not being able to speak to ANY family and friends on Christmas my understanding abilities are wavering.  Three hours with a technician today still didn't do the trick.  I am now seriously contemplating "dropping" you off our 14th floor balcony.  You've been warned.

Mama E

PS. Grandmas & Grandpas, brothers & sisters, friends - we are alive and well I assure you.  Wish we could have told you that in person on our trusty Vonage phone, but alas we are having relationship troubles.  I am looking into counseling options to begin effective immediately.  Yeah...


Feliz Natal

Last week the kindergartners had their holiday concert.  I bawled like a baby (don't judge - it was their first school concert!), and I must say, listening to Christmas carols being sung by your child in both English and Portuguese was A-MAZING!!!  To say that I loved it would be a gross understatement.. but then again I am a bit biased! ;)

Miss B's performance (she's on the left hand side, 2nd row from the bottom and 3 to the right):
Mr H's class (he's on the left hand side, middle row and surrounded by girls!):
 The grand finale with all the kids:
After the concert, we were able to spend time in the classrooms with the kids.  It was one of those perfect days! :)
My sister was in town from the States (our 1st visitor!!!) and came with us as well.
The kids made calendars for us with pictures of them at school throughout - such a fun idea!
And for the sake of all the Grandma's who have been patiently awaiting, I even captured a few short clips from the day (only 3 of the 5 uploaded correctly.. sorry!)! :)  FELIZ NATAL!!!


My dryer ate it...

When our things finally arrived, none brought with them as much immense joy as did my front loading washer and dryer!  Okay, really just the dryer.. we had the wonderful, oh let's just call it "cultural" experience of using a Brazilian dryer these past few months.  The entire unit could probably fit inside the barrel of mine!  It took TWO 170 minute cycles to dry ONE LOAD.  I'm pretty sure it is the equivalent of holding a hair dryer up to your wet laundry.. though that might even be faster..  Needless to say, this sad excuse for an appliance will not be missed!  What was that?  I believe it was that sweet musical tune that plays when yet another load has been thoroughly dried in less than 45 minutes.. Mmm hmm! :)
Poor little sucker never did have a fighting chance...


Bullet Proof

I picked up Miss B and her friend from school today and buckled them in as any loving, responsible mother would.  Not even a minute went by when Miss B's little 5yr old friend piped up and asked, "Is this car bullet proof?".  "Yes, it is.  Do you have a bullet proof car?"  "All of our cars are bullet proof."  Then Miss B says, "Mom, it's hot!  Can you roll down the windows?!" To which her friend replies, "Don't you know the back windows in bullet proof cars don't go down??"  ...welcome to São Paulo!  One of the rare cities in this world where regular citizens feel the need to protect themselves behind a tank of steel and inches (literally!) of glass.  With a built in alarm system to alert the outside world of help, and the option to project your voice on an external speaker system in case you desire to shout your issues from the safety of your vehicle (ex. "Me ajude! Um homem louco é tentando invadir meu carro impenetrável com uma marreta e uma metralhadora!" aka "Help me! A crazy man is trying to break into my impenetrable car with a sledgehammer and a machine gun!").  Okay, really it's quite cool, but controversial here as well:

Side A - "I WOULD ONLY DRIVE AN ARMORED CAR":  With the obvious crime all over the city and desperate conditions of literally millions of civilians here, I would be foolish to drive anything but an armored car.  I am an obvious target and would rather be safe than sorry.

Side B - "I WOULD NEVER DRIVE AN ARMORED CAR": If I flaunt the wealth, it makes me more of a target and less safe.  At some point I will be getting out of my car, and if they want me bad enough, they'll get me!  An armored car shows I have something worth hiding, and therefore worth stealing.

Honestly, I can understand both ways, and having driven both an armored and unarmored car here in São Paulo, I can say that I agree with both in their respective ways.  The car I typically drive is not armored and I have never felt like I needed bullet proof glass while driving around.  However, with my regular, unarmored car in the shop, we have been given a temporary armored Mercedes GLK and the thing is a TANK!  I feel confident that I could take on a bus and most likely win!  But at the same time, it does attract attention that my other car did not..

So, the question remains - Armored or unarmored?  I think I'll stick with my normal ride for now.. even though this beast has been fun, I prefer to be able to open and close my doors without using my ENTIRE body!


It's Here!!!

I wasn't sure which blog to post our decorated house pictures on and opted for the Brazil adventures one.. if you want to see the shots here is the link:  http://minutesformama.blogspot.com/  It is SOOO nice to finally have our stuff!!! :)

The Sequel

Oh rapture!  The feelings of joy that come from the realization that we have officially settled in Sao Paulo and are here to stay! :)  Isn't it amazing what a little TLC can do for an apartment?!  And just in time for Christmas too.. it makes me giddy just thinking about it! :)

This little room off the kitchen was mystifying to us.. we had no idea what to do with it!  But when our furniture arrived and we realized our dresser wouldn't fit in our bedroom, and the TV was a bit too large to hang on the wall, we started experimenting, and both pieces seemed to be practically made for this spot!  It's fantastic to be able to cook dinner and let the kiddos watch a flick literally right next to me, but out of the way as well. :)
A special room for all of their toys = one happy mom!
Miss B's room.
Strategically placed bunk beds in the boys' room - blocking access to the bathroom which is now being used for storage, and the balcony (which had been used for a car catapult..).
Princess P's room/nursery. It's a little snug, but it works!  The big bed is blocking access to her bathroom as well which we are also using for storage. :)
Our room. :)
It is such a HUGE blessing to have familiar things in an unfamiliar world.  It makes Brazil feel that much more like home!  It's so wonderful to feel settled again.. :)

Part 1

Ok, so I've possibly been slacking.. but if it makes it any better I can come up with a few excuses to help lift the responsibility from my shoulders - Including a week bout with pink eye that's been passed from one kiddo to the next, our 1st family visitor from the States - MY SISTER is in town!!! - and of course... OUR SHIPMENT ARRIVED!!!  Well really it arrived 3 weeks ago, but who's counting??  So this is me plating catch up - Part 1.

In order for our stuff to be moved in, the rental things had to be moved OUT!  We spent 2 days in a completely empty apartment.. no furniture, no dishes, silverware, TV, NADA!  And you know what??  It was SOOO much fun! :)  Sometimes it's nice to have nothing on your schedule, and nothing for the kids to make a mess with! ;)
We had a 2 night camp out in Princess P's bedroom.  A good friend of ours lent us their air mattress and a porta crib so we could get some decent shut eye.  So we had a family camp out, or is it camp in??  Whatever it was, it was fun!
By the end of day 2 the kiddos got a bit restless since it was raining and we literally had NOTHING to do.  And that's when the birds came to the rescue - the "Angry Birds" that is! ..and some other bizarre game involving worms and burning houses..  It bought me unreal amounts of time to prep things for the upcoming day!  ..so what if my kids' brains are now fried?! :P
Then it happened.  The biggest, most magnificent looking semi I have ever seen pulled up.  It made my heart go all flutterific and I had to remind myself that I am a grown woman with 4 children and it would most likely creep people out if I started to squeal.
Although it was another rainy day, nothing got my spirits down!  It was like every birthday and Christmas I've ever had all piled into one crazy day - one BUSY, crazy day!  Amazing V worked like a champ and together we got everything cleaned and put away in less than a week.  We are now breathing incredibly easy with our American goodies that I didn't realize how much I missed until I got them back! :)   *Part 2 with pictures coming soon!


My new hobby of the moment is officially snapping and editing photos!  Since Brandon gave me my Christmas present early this year (a Nikon D7000!) I have been borderline obnoxious snapping shots every chance I get!  I purchased Photoshop Elements 8 almost 2 years ago and haven't used it.  But thanks to the wonderful world of the internet and late night hours when the house is eerie-quiet, I have been learning some tricks of the trade.. but buyer beware!!!  This stuff is ADICTING! :) 

Check out this before and after shot of Hunter - it's a thing of beauty I tell you, and I don't even know what I'm doing!  Isn't technology incredible?!  Before:
After (check out those eyes!):
You can even add sun spots and rays to make it all dreamy..
Truly - now I have the necessary tools to show the world (in greater clarity!), the eyes I get to stare into every day! :)  I am one LUCKY mama!!!