I refuse to believe that all dreams mean something.  Doing so would cause me to have to seriously re-evaluate my mental state.  I have some crazy, argumentally psychotic, and yet incredibly "real" feeling dreams!  Pregnancy only amplifies my psyched out subconscious.  Sometimes when I wake up, I have to take a good 10 minutes to sort through what's real and what's not.  Often times I will have the same dream repeat itself each night for weeks.. bizarre?  Umm, YES!  As well as creepy and annoying (among other things).

My pregnancy dreams have ranged from infidelity (because what pregnant woman wouldn't want to add that fear to all the emotional and physical changes she's already experiencing??), babies born with severe abnormalities (we're talking a 3rd leg, 1 eye, or my personal favorite - a full set of adult teeth!), to pro-athlete aspirations for unborn children, a houseful of boys (yes, there was a time the thought made me nervous I'll admit!), and the always exciting "pre-term labor in unlikely places".  All of these had their moment in the spotlight.  Some were easier to swallow than others.. but the one that I've experienced with this pregnancy definitely takes the cake in the whole whacked-out-dream-realm:

We are in our apartment, though it's not actually our same "real-life" apartment, when one of the floors above us catches fire.  We are rushing all of our kids outside along with all of their friends who happen to be over for a play date (some 15+ extra kids),  when I determine that there is enough time for me to run back inside and collect some valuables before the building collapses.  My husband doesn't want me to go in, but I am insistent and tell him to stay with the kids and keep them safe as I rush back inside..  Now, lets take a moment to contemplate all of the things that I could or SHOULD be going back in to rescue:  Maybe my computer with all of our timeless pictures?  Our wedding album perhaps?  Or how about the bins of precious projects and collectibles that I have set aside for each of my kids?  Shamefully, none of the above.  I go running through the house to this gigantic room that is full of one thing and one thing alone.. my shoes.  MY SHOES!  It is like a department store in the way it was set up and I am standing there in the midst of them all as flaming timbers are crashing all around me, frantically trying to decide which ones I should save and which ones I would be willing to part with forever.  Wow.  I wake up from that one laughing.  Nervously laughing.  Laughing at my incredibly deep subconscious self who is apparently ridiculously shallow and well, downright stupid! 

Let me preface this by saying that I do not now, nor have I ever even dreamt of having in the future, a room specifically for my collection of shoes!  Having 5 kids and subsequently gaining 30-35lbs and losing it again (and again, and again..), has definitely clued me into why women love shoes so much: it's the only size that doesn't change!   I can buy a pair of cute heels whether I'm wearing my skinny jeans or waddling around in my husbands basketball shorts.  And now, with internet shopping, I don't even have to waddle anywhere at all!   There's this site that I happen to love.. it's called shoedazzle.com.   Yes, it's a shoe club, and yes, I'm a member.. but membership is free (and so is shipping!).. so does that help me seem a bit less high maintenance?!   Please say yes.  AND, I have to say that I only purchase during their "buy one get one free sales", which adds up to less than $20 per pair, which is my max (unless I'm buying boots.. you've got to spare a little more for a good pair of boots!).   So you see, I may love shoes, but I am a smarter shoe buyer than the average female foot freak right?   Right.   Thank you for making me feel better.. and slightly less worldly..  All I know is that when I am wearing my scrubs and a pair of sneakers, I FEEL like a mom of soon-to-be 5 kids, but slip on a pair of wedges or heels and suddenly I am Erin, who happens to be a mom of soon-to-be 5 kids, and LOVES it! :)  It's the little things people! 

After the dream, I decided to take precautions and packaged my most favorite pairs in fire & flood proof containers..  (That was a joke.  Feel free to laugh along.):
*Did I mention that I have a thing for matching containers (that are NOT fire & flood proof)??  It's a selective OCD thing.. strictly self-diagnosed. ;)


Penny Pincher

We've lived here for 1 1/2 years now and I couldn't tell you where the nearest post office is.. I've never been!  This is quite the feat if you realize how much I practically lived there while in Michigan.  To say the postal workers knew me by name is no exaggeration, I was there EVERY day, at least once to drop off a slew of "Bailey's Blossoms" packages, etc.  Well, call me a penny pincher, a scrooge, or whatever else suits your fancy.. or earn BFF status by telling me how e-cards are all the rage right now! ;)  Delivered cards will ALWAYS be more fun to receive (of course!), but until we return to a country where we don't have to buy hundreds of international stamps, this is sadly the best I can offer.  I hope this finds everyone well and Merry!  Christmas is in a week folks!!!  I hope everyone has a great one and takes the time to stop and contemplate on all of the ways we've been blessed throughout this past year. :) 

Prior to leaving the beach house over Thanksgiving weekend, we took the opportunity to set up the handy dandy tripod and snap some family photos for 2012 :).
This is my favorite shot that we got of the fam from our tripod session.  Thanks tripod, you rock!
Of course I had to get the individual shots as well of the kids :).  Here is Princess P, our 2 1/2 year old queen of the house:
Sir L, our 4 year old whirlwind, needed a little recruitment help from dad to start his face time :)
Such a ham!
Here's Mr H, our little ladies man, at 5 years old:
And Miss B, our 6 1/2 year old mommy's helper:
Me and my girls :)
And my amazingly good looking boys ;)
The hubster and I wanted a shot of the two of us.. Princess P wasn't too keen on that idea.
..so I recruited her big sister to distract her for a few seconds ;)  Thanks B!
Nothing says "distraction" like a little bird chasing fun!
And one of those classic, must-have beach shots :)
"MOM!  A crab just got me with his pincher's on my toe!!!" Lol.  Good times.
They really cooperated VERY well!  After all the pictures were taken, I held good on my promise for a breakfast picnic on the beach before we headed back home..
Merry Christmas everyone from our crazy family to yours! ;)


A very THANKFUL advent

A little November flashback for sentimental purposes.. and because it's fun to see it all in one place! :)  Last year, Thanksgiving was quite overlooked for us.  I'm not sure if it was because of the lack of seasonal changes, hot apple cider and donuts, or the fact that no one in Brazil cares about an American holiday.  It was one of those "little things" that I didn't even think about and it made me homesick for the first time since we'd been here.  So this year, I decided to take it up a notch by creating a Thanksgiving Advent calendar to help us count down to the big day!  This is one tradition that we will definitely keep!  The count down is half the fun.. maybe more!  It made for one very thankful, and very FUN month!!!  Each bag had a slip of paper in it with something we are thankful for and a corresponding activity to do that day:
November 1st - "We are thankful for our FRIENDS!" .. Play dates for everyone :)
November 2nd - "We are thankful for our TOYS!" ..after a quick organizing of the toy room, the kids decided to construct a tower using EVERY Lego in the bucket.  Trust me, this is harder than it sounds!
November 3rd - "We are thankful for our MOUTHS!" ..make and share a yummy treat together.  Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies anyone?? :)
November 4th - "We are thankful for our GRANDPARENTS!" ..sadly due to the 5hr time difference we couldn't reach anyone via Skype, so we left messages instead.
November 5th - "We are thankful for our NEIGHBORS!" ..our very PATIENT neighbors who have yet to complain about all the noise I'm sure they hear on a daily basis!  Nothing says "thank you!" quite like a fresh batch of Snickerdoodles!
November 6th - "We are thankful for PARKS!" ..and off we went to enjoy a beautiful sunny day at one of our favorites! :)
November 7th- "We are thankful for our FAMILY!" ..play a game together as a family.  Jenga is one of our favorites!
November 8th - "We are thankful for SNUGGLING!" ..snuggle up on the couch and watch a movie together.
November 9th - "We are thankful for DADDY!" ..make a special surprise for daddy.  The kids wrote messages and drew pictures to decorate the door for when Brandon arrived home, and I had a very lovely, very LARGE homemade cheese pizza waiting for him (sadly we were out of toppings.. we aren't usually that boring - no offense to cheese lovers!). :)
November 10th - "We are thankful for ICE CREAM!" ..out to ice cream we went, courtesy of McDonald's!
November 11th - "We are thankful for TEMPLES!" ..enjoy a picnic outside the Sao Paulo LDS temple. :)
November 12th - "We are thankful for our TEACHERS!" ..words can't express how true this really is!  Each of my kids have the PERFECT teachers to help bring out the best in each of them.  These were peanut butter cookies.. I was in a crazy baking mood all month I swear!
November 13th - "We are thankful for our HANDS!" ..do a project using your hands :) - turkey hand prints soon covered all of our glass windows and doors!  *Have I ever mentioned that I LOVE washable paint?!  What would childhood be without it?  Truly.
November 14th - "We are thankful for JESUS!" ..read stories about Jesus and sing songs to him. :)
November 15th - "We are thankful for NATURE!" ..Sadly Miss B didn't get to join us on our nature walk scavenger hunt today since she was on a play date, but the kids did save her a few treasures! :)
November 16th - "We are thankful for TURKEYS!" ..make a turkey craft!  Turkey apples are a favorite in this house! :)
November 17th - "We are thankful for HEALTHY BODIES!" ..the hubster took the kids out for a little fitness testing.. a 7month prego woman just didn't seem to quite fit the bill for this activity!
November 18th - "We are thankful for our BRAZIL!" ..take a trip to Rio!!! :)  This was the most anticipated bag for us - the kids of course had no idea and it was SO fun to surprise them!  Of course I had to get it on video.. just don't mind my over excited "RIO!" squeal.  Lol
November 19th - "We are thankful for CULTURE!" ..go on a sightseeing adventure.  Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) - DEFINITELY a must see!!! :)
November 20th - "We are thankful for the BEACH!" ..a trip to the infamous Ipanema beach seemed quite fitting. :)
November 21st - "We are thankful for BOOKS!" ..one of the many reasons I love having kids is that it gives me a legitimate excuse to read all of the great children's books that are available!
November 22nd - "We are thankful for FOOD!" ..enjoy a Thanksgiving feast!!!  With the backdrop of my girlfriends beach house, this was by far the most amazing and relaxing Thanksgiving we've ever had!  Princess P was pretty wiped out from all the beach and pool fun.. poor thing fell asleep before even tasting the amazing meal!
In conclusion, if you've ever contemplated an advent calendar to spice up the holidays, I only have one thing to say:  STOP CONTEMPLATING AND JUST DO IT!!!  Seriously.  You won't regret it!  Best. Thanksgiving. Ever.