Twice a week my kids get to participate in a crazy lot of after school activities held in our complex.  All classes here are covered by our condo fees so whether you are involved in one or twelve you don't pay extra..  For some reason with deals like this, I feel like I am getting a better steal if I do more than less, so NATURALLY we decided to do more.. right??  I had the option to sign them up for nonstop extra "stuff" four days a week, but the thought didn't appeal since, lets be honest, I wanted a bit more flexibility to meet up with friends for playdates, go to the park, chill at home, etc. 

So we opted for two of the four days to spice it up - Tuesday and Thursday afternoons are a crazy mad dash around the clubhouse that look something like this:
3:30-4:00 Judo for the boys
4:00-4:45 Ballet for Miss B
4:30-5:00 Swimming for the boys
5:00-5:30 Swimming for Miss B

But for all of the running, heart palpitations and minorly stressful moments, it is SO worth it to see them sporting their ADORABLE outfits!!!  The boys' Judo uniforms just came and I was thrilled to see Brazilian flag patches adorning it in numerous places - what a reminder of such fun times here! :)
Studs. Truly.
Miss B is a just as perfect in her ballet uniform (minus the flags):
Her class size is usually 6-8, but many people were still travelling as these were taken during the week of Carnaval (news on that to come!).
Boys.  Need I say more?  Sometimes I just don't even know...
It's amazing that we can accomplish SO much in two short hours, and still have smiles on our faces!!!  What troopers! :)
WARNING: if you have a weak stomach you may not want to continue reading the rest of this one...

By the time 5:30 comes, I am in desperate need of a good sit down, so I typically let loose all four of them into the pools outside to play for 30 minutes or so before we head back home to make dinner around 6:00pm.  The other day, I took Princess P and the boys outside early (they were getting ansy) and told Miss B to come out when she was done with her swimming lesson.. 

About 5 minutes into playing, Sir L runs up to me exclaiming "Mommy! I have a BIG poop!"  "Aww really?  Everyone out of the pool!  We have to take Sir L to the potty!  Hustle hustle!" ..this is a rather time sensitive matter as he was JUST potty trained!  So away we all ran to the ladies bathroom.  Once we arrive at the stalls I looked down at him.  "Ok buddy, in you go.."  "I don't have to go anymore."  ??? Seriously ???  But just for humors sake, "Turn around bud, mommy wants to see." 

As I peeked down his backside I saw a little bit of diarrhea.  My internal dilemma went something like this:  Miss B isn't done for another 15minutes.  I don't have a change of clothes, and have no way to cover his little naked self if I strip him down.. perhaps I can just stick him in the shower and rinse him off and we can pretend this never happened?  Sounds like a plan to me!  "Ok pal, get in the shower, mommy is going to clean you up."  I herded all three into the shower for safety's sake and put the shower hose down Sir L's backside.  Apparently what my eyes saw was only a SMALL fraction of what was hiding in between the kids legs.. Green poopy water dumped out of his shorts with such unexpected force that I had to jump back.  That's I realized that there was a woman in the stall right next to us, and the lunatic who designed the showers made us all share one floor and one drain.. right by her feet!  I frantically tried spraying the water away from her, when Mr H noticed the problem at hand and started yelling "MOMMY!  There is poop EVERYWHERE!!!"  "Yes, I know!  I am trying to clean it up.. SHHH!"  At this point I am thanking my lucky stars that nobody in there spoke English, when little miss bilingual, aka not-so-"Princess"-anymore P yells out "COCO! COCO!" (Not to be confused with "coconut", which is similar in sound, but most likely wouldn't be talked about with such excitement in a bathroom setting..)  Gaaaaa!  I quickly covered her mouth, but it was too late..

I didn't have to wonder where the shrieking gasp came from, and the next thing I knew I was face to face with a very unhappy, very naked Korean woman.  "Desculpa.." was all I could manage to get out as I rushed everyone into another stall to continue my mothering duties.  After we were decent and I finished picked clumps of my sons, (pardon me), crap, out of the shower drain, we left with our eyes fixated on the rather fascinating tile floor.  Welp, if I once had any kind of a decent reputation here, it is officially scarred now! 

Yep... the glamorous life of mom... thanks little man - this one's a keeper! ;P


The Little Things

Because I want to pretend that you care about the little things that make such a HUGE difference, I have yet another play by play as to what a deprived American sends her husband out shopping for during his 2nd business trip to the States..  Mainly, it's food items.  The kinds of things that, A: I can't get my hands on here, or B: if I am lucky enough to find it, I am not yet insane enough to want to spend 10x's more for it than what I know it's worth!  So, what was on my list this go around??  Well, there's the necessities:

Pancake mix
Alfredo sauce
Cake mixes
Cream of chicken & mushroom soups
Italian bread crumbs
Black olives
Ranch mix
Green enchilada sauce
Chicken broth
Peanut butter
Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
Chili powder
Caesar dressing
& Strawberry preserves :)
Chocolate chips
Raisin bran
Frosted mini wheats (SQUEAL!!!)
Oatmeal packets
& Oatmeal
Mr H suddenly had a growth spurt, so he needed new church clothes.. SO handsome!
Super glue - a basic human right!
Misc DVD's
Camera equipment - a UV protectant lens cover and a cleaning "pen"
A TON of stuff for the USA booth I am in charge of for an upcoming cultural celebration event.  I chose the "Hollywood" theme to represent us this year.. complete with a red carpet runner! :)
 More knick knacks.. hairspray, ponies, my favorite shade of lipliner..
Future gift items for the kiddos.  One can NEVER have too many books! 
The icing on the cake for me is a toss up between these two smashing pairs of boots (I have a fetish I'll admit!.. I snagged both pairs for under $20!!!),
..and the surprise my hubby was able to sneak into the bags - Ghiradelli brownie mix!  These suckers are the real deal!!!  Is my man good or is he GOOOOD?!
A little perspective??  Some friends of ours paid the $75 extra baggage fee for Brandon to be able to bring them back some goodies too.. it may sound crazy, but I tell you it's not only worth it, but it actually still saves you some mullah!  Here was their lot:
My Portuguese tutor also shipped a camera and some goodies for Brandon to pick up for her daughter.. even though it's a Canon, we decided to play nice and bring it for them anyways ;)
And some goodies for Amazing V as well!  When there's a blowout sale, you just gotta do it!!! :)
My sweet man packed and weighed each of the 4 bags (plus a carry on) to make sure they were exactly 70lbs each and muscled them all home for me.. is that a great husband or what?! :)  It really is the little things that matter most!


With 4 kids born in 4 years, it shouldn't come as a surprise when I say I haven't gotten out much..  So when the Lovely E suggested a girls trip to Buenos Aires this past January, I POUNCED!  I was a smidgen nervous to fly international solo, but had the good fortune to sit next to a sweet Brazilian gal who let me talk Portuguese with her the entire time, calming both of our nerves! :) 

Everyone says Portuguese and Spanish are sister languages, but I beg to differ!  Somewhere between the accents and the key vocab differences, I was once again beyond lost as we arrived in BA.  Thankfully I am quite good at charades now and was able to mime my way into my first taxi ride EVER (I know right?!) to meet up with the rest of the group (they had arrived 4 days sooner, but due to Miss B's bday I decided to postpone my arrival).
The Lovely E stayed for a week in order to get her Brazilian work Visa (you have to leave the country for who knows why?).  It worked out great since the other gals couldn't stay the entire time either so we had a day overlap and soon it was just E and I.
 Soon after everyone else left and we had two minutes to put our feet up, we had a little visitor fly in (look closely at the top shelf)..
I tried to be a good friend, honest I did.  I just wasn't expecting the anxiety/fear of my dear friend to be so darn FUNNY!  ...and I may possibly have an immature nervous laughter issue that I'm still working on...  That being said, the little sucker had to go, and I was bound and determined to help him go in peace.  Girded about with sunglasses for safety (his beak was SHARP I tell you!), we suddenly became 7yrs old again. 
I got him out of the bookshelf, but our shrieks only steered him into the upstairs bedroom.  After way too many squeals and bursts of hysterical laughter, I threw a towel over him and carried him outside, feeling rather proud of myself!
He sat bewildered for a VERY long time.  I think we gave him a heart attack..  I won't tell you that we found him belly up the next morning outside our bedroom window because that would be depressing.. Poor little guy. :(
Aside from becoming a murderer, we didn't do anything major at all.  No touristy sight seeing - just enjoying the CHEAPNESS that is Argentina!  We shopped, got our hair done (cut, all-over highlights and style for less than $80!!!), and SHOPPED!  We were two shopping deprived girls from SP set loose to help the local economy.. it felt so nice to be of such service! ;)
Aside from experiencing my 1st taxi ride in Buenos Aires, I also took my first train ride (we took out the sister missionaries for lunch), my first local bus ride, AND my first subway ride as well! 
..speaking of subways, that was definitely the most life altering experience from the trip, hands down!  As we boarded the subway we definitely realized how much we stood out.  Eyes burned into our backs, but we managed to play it incredibly calm and collective - and really, we are from Sao Paulo!  What could be more dangerous than that?!  The Lovely E most recently moved from New York too so I took her lead and we stood by the doors.  As we started to break for a stop, 3 men came up and crowded the door to leave.  One man was quite friendly and pushed himself up against me wrapping one arm around me to get to the handle bar.  "I am surrounded by arms" I mumbled to E, but she just smiled and held tight to her purse which was wrapped around her neck and clutched in both hands.  As I shouldered the guy behind me to move back he wouldn't budge so I turned around to give him a warning glare and that's when the others went in on E.  She felt a kick and fell back briefly, mistaking the kick for an accident as the doors opened.  In a flash they were all gone and as I stood there shaking off the awkward remains of this stranger Lovely E exclaimed "I think they took my wallet..  Oh my gosh, we were just robbed!".  We started frantically putting the pieces together and it all suddenly made so much sense!  Her and I were within 2-3 feet of one another and I had first been distracted so that she could then be distracted while the 3rd player somehow unzipped her purse and pulled out her wallet without either of us noticing until after the fact!  They got away with her credit cards and some of my cash that was also in there since I didn't have mine on hand that day.  Thankfully cards are easily cancelled, and we had had the forethought (ok, divine intervention!) to put my cards in separate places (the side zip pocket of her purse and my back pocket).  We ran to the bank to pull out more cash and paid the taxi to get us back home.  So much for saving money on the subway!  But really, I had no idea they could be that smooth!  On a scale of 1-10, I definitely award them an 11 in stealthiness!  And truly, as shaken as we were, it was short lived - because truly, of all the ways to be robbed, that is by far the best!  No wounds, no verbal exchanges, just a quick, clean grab and we were on our merry way (after the calls to our husbands of course, who weren't as calm about the whole ordeal as we apparently were!).

Even with that though, I give our little getaway 5 stars!  It was so wonderful to have a little time to myself, and after 4 days, I returned refreshed and rejuvenated for more mommy time! :)


Game ON!!!

Football.  Not to be confused with "Futebol" (which you may know as "soccer").  No, I'm talking good old fashioned American Football here.. not something even remotely valued here in Brasil, but with such an amazing turnout of soccer players, there isn't much need to care.  That being said, the NFL (despite Brazil's lack of interest), still goes on, and there seemed to be a rather large grouping of American or American-affiliated men who didn't want to be left out of all the traditional pre-game fun.

Thankfully for them there was a gathering of about 10 or so full fledged teams geared up and ready for some flag football.. once you pass the threshold of 30yrs of age, your bones don't take too well to be slammed on the ground!  Princess P wanted to make sure the opposing team was plenty buttered up so they would be kind to her daddy.. don't mistake her for a traitor.  Although it may look like our 22month old was shamelessly flirting, I assure you she had nothing but strictly strategic intentions in mind.  Such a clever little princess!
Sadly after losing game 1, the pressure was on for game 2.. loose two and you're out of the tournament! :(
My man looked pretty fly out there reliving his glory days!   ..and he got to be lucky number 7.  :)
...but after all was said and done, the other team had a professional player as their QB which I swear shouldn't be legal, but definitely made it fun to watch! :)
That is NOT panic on their faces, but rather an ever so slight concern for their fellow man.. we managed to leave with only one injury (a dislocated finger) on the entire team - not too shabby!
This wasn't your average pull ribbons off each others' pants charade - they had some legit trophies up for grabs too!
Even though we didn't secure a trophy, it was a FUN (ok, and maybe a smidgen HOT!) family day!
You rocked it boys!  Next year, that trophy is as good as yours!!! ;)



People have birthdays in Brazil.  A crazy phenomenon I know!  But I never realized just how different we celebrate!  Miss B just turned 6.  SIX!!!  I'll save you the sob story on how time flies and I'm really not okay with it..

Our typical traditions stayed the same of course.. breakfast in bed? Check.
A lunch out with mom? Check.  And YES!  We even have a McDonald's here (naturally her food of choice) - and dare I say that I like it more here?!  I don't know why, but everything seems fresher, less processed.. maybe I'm over analyzing this one..  Either way she was happy and it was a GREAT afternoon! :)
Birthday party?  Check.  But this one is where the differences come into play!  At your traditional Brazilian birthday party, the average family spends THOUSANDS.  Yes, THOUSANDS!!!  It's like a mini wedding reception, but for kids!

Option #1: Rent people to come and play with the kids so the parents can hang out and not have to worry about a thing.  You also need to rent a performer (magicians or clowns, or better yet, a magician dressed as a clown - yes they have them!).  Purchase enough food for the kids, their parents, siblings, and possibly neighbors and cousins too because EVERYONE comes and stays the entire time!

Option #2: Rent out a facility.  There are mini indoor play parks with roller coasters and arcade games that are only for parties.  It comes all inclusive with about a dozen or so people, to again, play with the kids so the parents can relax and hang out together.  Again, purchase enough food to feed approximately 100+ people, and a VERY big cake!

Option #3: REBEL. This was the option we chose as I do not have a birthday trust fund in place just yet...  I went the creative "American housewife" route and chose a theme (it was a mix between "rainbow" and "baking") and went to town!  The kids (18 + my 4 for a total of 22) were dropped off and received one of three different hand stamps to put them in a group.  After everyone arrived and settled their nerves (for 99% of them this was their 1st ever "drop off" party!  The kids were nervous, as were many of the parents.. it's a strange concept here to not have extra help to run the party for you.), we split them into three groups.  I took one group to decorate aprons that they would get to take home, Hottie Hubster took another group to make their own pizzas, while the last group had "free play" in our ridiculously well stocked play room with Amazing V.  After everyone was finished, we rotated groups!  It went off without a hitch!  Then we got them all together to eat their pizzas, and decorate their own cupcakes.  It was a perfect evening!  The other catch?  Quite a few of the kids didn't speak a lick of English, so I had to give directions in both English and Portuguese, and you know what?!  It totally worked!  I have officially just held my very first bilingual birthday party - now THAT is something to celebrate!!! :)