3.26.2012

Celebration of the World

Okay, I've been putting this off long enough.  I guess my subconscious was slightly worried that writing about it would take as much effort as preparing for it.. 

This year, for the schools' "Celebration of the World" PTA fundraising event, I took on the task of being the country coordinator for the grand ole US of A!  Each of the 26 represented countries at the event were to choose a theme to decorate their booth, and provide food for a minimum of 1,000 people (more than 1,800 came).  I chose the theme of Hollywood, and my word was it FUN!!!  A lot of work I'll admit, but an absolute blast!:)
In order to make it happen, I asked for donations (time, monetary, carting goods back from the States, etc) from each of the American families at the school.  A wonderful amount of people stepped forward to help make it happen, and they were each famous for a day with their names on our Walk of Fame stars that lined the red carpet at our booth. :) 
We served hour duerves (or however you spell it) to go with our theme: sausages on toothpicks, cheese and grapes, crackers with spread and bite sized cookies.
Did I mention that I personally baked about 2,000 cookies (and possibly gained 10lbs?!).. yeah.. good times. http://minutesformama.blogspot.com/2012/03/sugar-rush.html
I couldn't have pulled it off with my fortress of lovely volunteers!  THANKS LADIES!!!
..and of course it wouldn't have been a red carpet event without our lovely celebs!
But the best part? DEFINITELY seeing my sweet kids walk the red carpet!  That was a priceless mommy moment indeed! :)
It was truly such an amazing event with an abundance of culture!  The booths were AMAZING!  The food was superb and there was even some great entertainment and bouncers for the kids to play on. :)
Each country was able to create a basket to raffle off.  The entire event is PTA sponsored and the biggest fundraiser of the year.  these babies are a huge part of bringing in the big money.  All items within them are donated by parents, and then the tickets were purchased for R$5/each for a shot to take one home.. GENIUS!  This was the USA's basket:
Each classroom was teamed up with another and asked to put together a basket too.  As I am room mom for my kids' classes, I was able to help coordinate this "Wet n' Wild" themed basket as well!
Overall, the day was a LOT of work, but worth every effort!  If no one steps up to the plate next year, I just might do it again! ;)

Dancing Baby

Brace yourself, it's confession time:  I LOVE music with soul.  Especially Gospel and Latin music!  I don't know why, but it is a very sad and select few of us pasty white folk who know how to put so much passion into music.  I literally cried when Fantasia won American Idol and sang the song "I Believe" with such incredible emotion!  I still get butterflies when I listen to it. 

There is a rich skinned wannabe just itching to burst free underneath all this pinkness!  But for some reason, when I try to set my inner soul sista free, I feel like I'm 5 years old playing dress up again, and then comes the sad realization that it's all just pretend. :(  They can sing like I can only dream of, and my word can they move!  Being in Brazil, I feel like there is hope for us yet.. at least little Princess P is picking up on some of the moves! *Oh, and I was parked in case you were contemplating freaking out.. ;)
video

3.19.2012

Culture Shock?

My husband and I went to a school sponsored open forum the other night in which a renowned author, teacher, and child psychologist spoke on the challenges that arise in raising children in such a diverse area.  She mentioned that we all come with the idea that although we may come from different places, we all have the same values... and then the day comes when we realize that that may not be the case after all.  What a rough day that can be!  Ideas on sex, alcohol, and drug use, can be especially sensitive and controversial topics for parents.  It is not uncommon for many members of upper class society here to have alcohol accessible for the youth (14-15yrs old+) at birthday parties, etc.  (Yes, I am aware this happens in the US as well.)  I know personally a young man the age of 12 who was harassed for being a virgin, and then mock humped by another boy while others spread rumors that he is gay.  It is a brutal world we live in.  No matter where you live - particularly for our youth - but it can also be quite difficult for us as adults.  At times, I feel more pressure from my "peers" (fellow parents) now, than I ever did while in high school.  Everyone is trying to determine the best way to raise their children, and everyone has different opinions.  That is really the only fact we can all agree on.

More and more as my children age I am urged to step up to the plate of advocacy, and my oldest is only 6! These past few months I have been busy planning and preparing a booth to represent the United States of America at a Celebration of the World PTA fundraising event to be held at the school for the students and their families. Yesterday was the big day, and BIG it was!!! It was such an amazing event filled with incredible culture! From food, to decor, to entertainment (I will be posting about it all soon), it was a wonderful event! The "crowning jewel" was the Samba group the PTA paid good money to bring in. Being previously warned by people who have attended in years past, we opted to send the kids home with my husband prior to their arrival. As I heard the drums start to play, I couldn't help but sneak away from my booth to see what all the fuss was about. This is what I saw:
I love the Bourne Identity movie series, but using parental judgment, I would never feel it appropriate to watch those videos during our family movie night with my young children.We cannot afford to gamble with the psychological (not to mention moral), well being of our children by underestimating the impact that such violent or sexual behaviors may have on them.  It is my strong opinion that school environments should do everything in their power to provide a safe guard for that well being by striving to uphold the highest of standards through more acceptable methods of teaching. If it is exposure to culture we are seeking, after being in Brazil for just 7 months, I can absolutely vouch for the culture of this nation, and the fact that it has far more to offer than half naked women shaking their bodies in the faces of our youth.But that's just me.

So here's my question: Does being culturally accepting mean that I just sit back and keep my mouth shut, or am I justified in my concerns? I know in this particular issue, the school has received several complaints each year, but it is usually chalked up to the "newbies" having culture shock and nothing is done to change it. Let me make myself clear: It is not the Samba that I am disagreeing with here - the culture of dance in Brazil is something that I myself have been able to partake in (I go to an amazing dance class every Monday), and absolutely LOVE it! But does Samba, coupled with the traditional Samba costumes, have place in a school environment? To Samba with kindergartners, or not to Samba with kindergartners.. THAT is the question!

3.15.2012

Sugar Rush

A few months ago I was somehow talked into volunteering to run the US booth at a huge "Celebration of the World" cultural event at the school this Saturday.  It is the PTA's biggest fundraising event of the year.  26 countries are being represented this year.  Each country is given a (VERY!) limited budget to decorate a 10x10ft booth with a theme that shows an aspect of their culture, and provide food for a minimum of 1,000 people.  The US and Brazilian booths however are twice the size (10x20ft), but still given the same budget to pull it off, but with the added pressure of being a "host" country (it's an "American" school, in Brazil) and the expectations of it being something fantastic.  Anyways, the crafter in me couldn't wait to start in on the challenge!  With the help of some very generous donators, I was able to collect enough mullah to hopefully make our booth this year one that won't soon be forgotten!  That being said, I have less than 48hrs to pull this off and it is officially CRUNCH TIME!  In the past 24hrs I have made 2,000 cookies.  TWO THOUSAND COOKIES!  Any idea what that looks like?  Crazy.  That's what.

This is only 1/2 of the dough I made.. I ran out of large bowls to put it all in one shot.  I will be completely content if I never see another cookie again.
Start rolling.
Keep rolling.  Allow your brain to go completely numb - you'll be there for a while.
Chill the suckers and bag them if you're too tired to frost them all right away.
Start dipping!  I added a little US of A flare in the sprinkles.. I chose the theme of Hollywood for the booth, but wanted to incorporate our red white and blue somehow!  It just wouldn't be right otherwise. :)
I ran out of sprinkles faster than expected.  Sadly they don't sell sprinkles here unless you want the chocolate kind for brigadeiros, so I had to get creative and "borrowed" red from my Christmas stash...
...and blue from my winter stash...
What have I learned from this experience?  I could never, NEVER be a baker.  I LOVE making a few dozen cookies, but a few thousand??  Next time I think I'll pass.

Up next: cubing 80lbs of cheese, cooking 100lbs of sausage, and making the biggest bowl of salsa you've ever seen (among others things).  It sounds sporadic I know, but the idea is hor dourves.  Trust me and I'll post pictures soon! :)

3.05.2012

Carnaval

For those who are wondering "What exactly IS Carnaval?":  It is a world famous festival held before Lent every year and considered the biggest carnival in the world with two million people per day on the streets.  There is a parade filled with people and floats from various rival samba schools.  The performance competition between the schools is the climax of the whole carnaval festival.  Each school chooses a theme and work to build the best floats and costumes to represent it.

Over the years the event has become more and more elaborate, and world renowned.  Well known for it's scantily clad performers (often bare buttocks and some even bare chested), the event is not new to controversy.  Although technically originated as a "religious celebration" (though not celebrated as such anymore), the entire country of Brasil seems to shut down in preparation and anticipation.  

For our little band of crazies, this meant one VERY important thing:  DADDY IS HOME!!! :)  We decided as a family to celebrate the holiday in a less traditional, but still very cultural way - a Brazilian churrasco!  We were able to get together with some members of our local LDS ward and have a fun family day sharing good food, good conversation, and LOADS of fun!  Stateside, following a traditional LDS gathering, the men often play basketball.. but here?  Futeball (aka: Soccer) is the proud sport of choice!  It was a wonderful day, and we are already counting down the days until Carnaval next year! :)