Red Hot & Angry

October was as crazy as a month around here ever was. One of the major highlights of the month was Sir L's 4th birthday celebration! The great thing about 4yrs old is they begin to really understand the meaning surrounding all the excitement. For the first time there are specific requests for the party theme, the food that will be served, and of course, the guest list!

My little man has been obsessed with the color red for as long as he's had a color preference opinion at all!  If you've ever met the little guy, you'll know that once his mind is made up about something, it is MADE UP.  Don't waste your time trying to manipulate a change..  Been there.  Done that.  Pointless.  He also is a head over heels activist for all things "Angry Birds".  If you are unaware of the ongoing phenomenon, you're welcome, you are now officially in the loop!  Naturally, when the hubster and I came across the immense party goods spread showcasing the angry birds in all their fire-engine-red glory, the light bulbs just started firing!  Angry Birds it was, and dare I say I was possibly more giddy about throwing this party than almost any other I've done thus far! ;)

When his friends arrived and the elevator doors parted, they were greeted by these familiar faces in balloon form, thanks to the awesome cut and tape skills of my hubby and the free template we scored online (http://www.thepartyanimal-blog.org/Downloads/Angry_Birds_Balloon_Templates.pdf)! ;)
I found this perfect flag in the clearance section at WalMart by complete chance - it was an easy throw up door decoration!
Inside, we had rearranged our main room furniture to accommodate for the extra bodies and lack of a backyard!
It's times like these that I am SO thankful I used to teach preschool and still have tons of tables and little chairs! :)
The table spread was basic but came together perfectly!
When the kids arrived there were Angry Birds coloring pages set up on a table for those who wanted some quiet time to adjust to the new surroundings, while those who felt right at home played in the toy room while we waited for everyone to arrive.
Once all the kids were accounted for, the hubster and I split them into two groups.  He took one group to play a "live" version of the hit game.. it was a HUGE success and definitely a unanimous favorite!  I had the other group at the table playing Angry Birds Bingo with m&m's.. apparently not quite as intriguing as the other (no one asked to play more than twice, compared to the CONSTANT lineup of kids wanting to take yet another shot at knocking down those noxious green piggies!), but still super fun!
What would a birthday party be without cupcakes with frosting so red they stain your teeth for the remainder of the day?!
Lovely boys.  Just lovely.
Cute girls from the birthday boys' class at school. :)  The sweet girl on the left has stolen my title as "Landon's girl".. good thing she's so stinkin' adorable!
The homemade pinata attempt.  FYI - if you're planning on making one, start a week in advance.. 48hrs is NOT enough drying time!  Oops.  Now I know.
Regardless of a few wet spots, it worked like a charm and the kids were just happy to get their hands on some loot!
Aside from sending them home with a bunch of junk food and candy, everyone took home an Angry Birds coloring book and pack of crayons.  It was seriously one of the easiest parties I've ever thrown!  "SO much fun", meet "simple and stress free".  It's a beautiful thing!
We celebrated Sir L's birthday as a family the day before his actually big day due to the hubsters crazy work schedule and unpredictable late hours.  L didn't seem to mind at all!
I was most excited about giving him his Buzz this year. 
Don't get me wrong, he really likes it, but there were a few gifts that definitely received the majority of his attention (and still do!)..

Sometimes it really is the simple things that they enjoy the most! 

For all those out there who think that giving a book will come across as "lame", think again!  Buzz never got a hug and a squeal..
This was the birthday that just kept on giving!  ..I couldn't very well not do ANYTHING on the legitimate day of his birth could I??  We stuck to the usual traditions - breakfast in bed, 

out to lunch with mom,
and dinner of choice (homemade pizza.. yum!!!).
And of course I had to save him one last gift to be opened up on the big day! :)  I am so grateful to have this little guy in my life!  Our family would certainly not be the same without him!  Love you little man!!!


Stay Calm & Carry On

We all have our strengths and our weaknesses. As I lay here in a chair for two hours at the hospital for my glucose tolerance test (staring at a blank curtain while trying to keep my sanity in check), I am reminded once again that patience isn't on my list of acquired strengths just yet..
..that's the American in me talking I guess.  Always wanting things done now. Or better yet, yesterday!  Brazil has taught me a LOT about patience.  In the states you find a clock in every room. Many times there will be multiple in one room, on each wall and desk (heaven forbid we must turn our heads.. for that may in fact mess up our schedule!).  In Brazil if you don't have your phone with you, or a handy dandy wrist or pocket watch, you may never know what time it is. Doctors offices, salons.. all the places I so meticulously "pencil in" don't give me the option to stare at the clock to make sure I'm going to get out of there "on time".  If you show up to a birthday party at the time indicated on the invitation, you might even beat the guest of honor there!  To be safe, everyone arrives at least 30 minutes late.  It is a constant concern as to the country of origin your host belongs to.  How else would you know if dinner is at a "Brazilian 6:00pm" (aka 7pm) or an "American 6:00pm" (don't be late or your food will be cold, and your hostess annoyed!).

I am a scheduler by nature. I DESPISE being late. If I'm running 10 minutes late, the smile you see on my face when I finally arrive will most likely be forced. It makes me feel disheveled and unorganized which turns to annoyance and (depending on the situation) grumpiness. You have been warned. ;)  But here in Sao Paulo, there are so many factors beyond your control.  Okay, one major one really.  Traffic.  Unpredictable and without real rhyme or reason, a typical 15 minute route can turn into a 2 hour fiasco just because it wants to (or so it would seem).  But no one seems to complain.. unless they're are a foreigner that is.  "Oh well! We'll get there when we get there.." - an attitude I have slowly begun to accept over the past 16 or so months.  Sometimes, you gotta just roll with the punches!

Don't believe me that I've grown in this area?  Well, here's a current example that packs a pretty hefty punch, encompassing all of the above:  We're moving.  GASP!  I know right?!  But we just got here!!! ..welcome to the unpredictability of expatriate life!  A "3 year contract" can mean 2, and it could mean 5..  "We'll cross that bridge when we get to it" is a term that an OCD scheduler (aka yours truly), threw out there while still naively imagining that in 3 years to the day (oh ok, I'll give them a week!), we would be packing our little bags and leaving this beautiful country that we've come to call home.  Naive.  Part of the unwritten agreement for expats is the ability to be flexible. You bend, or you break!  Breaking sounds painful. 

So, I know what all you schedulers out there are dying to know:  Where are you going and WHEN?!?!  Well my lovies, that is the question.  Or should I say questions?..  We have two opportunities in the works (that for pure torture and suspense purposes will remain nameless for now), but I WILL tell you that neither of them bring us back to the U.S. as of yet.  I LOVE my home country, don't get me wrong, but I'm not ready to give up these adventures as of right now!  It's strange really.. I anticipated learning more about a new culture when we moved here, but I did not anticipate how much I would learn about myself!  The personal growth and change that have been acquired in the past 16 months have been more substantial than I ever could have imagined!  I have come to love the challenges associated with foreign living (almost to the point of addiction), and am literally craving a new experience with a new culture, new language, new people and new experiences.  Both of the pursuing opportunities would fulfill all the above perfectly! :)  But as to WHEN??  Most likely it'll be right after the baby is born (the little man is due the end of January) and has acquired all of his passports and other vital records that we'll need if we want him to join us on our next adventure (yes, I think it would be nice to have him tag along!).  So in the words of my husband, "Most likely sometime in March".  But of course I now know what that means..  Could be February.. could be June!  If only you could see the calm and collective look on my face and hear my heart beating at an incredibly normal pace, you would be impressed!  Somehow, I am TOTALLY and completely a-ok with not having any specific answers. Why?  Either I've lost my mind already and was too busy or stupid to notice, I've been injected with a Brazilian "relax you over-anxious, controlling American" chill pill, or chalk it up to the fact that I have acquired a deep faith that we will indeed (eventually), go WHERE we need to go, WHEN we need to go there.  I have officially put my clocks and calendars on hold and just want to enjoy however much time we are granted left in Brazil.  Because the truth of the matter is, it is going to be incredibly, excruciatingly hard to say goodbye to everyone and everything that we have come to love so much here! :(

So, here's to taking one day at a time.  To living each moment out without looking forward to what tomorrow brings.  I will tackle tomorrow when tomorrow comes!  And for all of my beloved friends and family who hate cliff hangers, this one comes with a promise - when I know, I will let you know! ;)


Big, Round & ORANGE!!!

LOOK WHAT WE FOUND!!!  Pumpkins!  Not green with orange streaked, that are more of a squash than a pumpkin, but REAL, legit American pumpkin patch style pumpkins.  The kind you can actually carve!  Truly, my heart was full to rejoicing.  I didn't even care that they cost half of my kids' college education (okay, slight exaggeration there.. it only cost 1/3 of their education)!  But truly, who needs college when you've got pumpkins that bring out childhood pleasures and cultivate memories that they will surely talk about when they are old and gray??  No exaggeration.
We had a pumpkin ripe and ready for the girls,
and another for the boys!
Once the spoons were out and the guts revealed, there was no stopping the de-seedification process.  Pure bliss I tell you.  PURE BLISS.
As this was Princess P's 1st ever pumpkin gutting, I wasn't sure how it would go.. she had mixed emotions at first but slowly warmed up to the idea.  Though between handfuls she did make a break for the bathroom to wash her "ucka" hands. :)
Miss B is closer to 7 than 6yrs old these days.  SURELY old enough to be the official artist of Sir Pumpkin's face!
It was a very proud moment :)
With a little help from yours truly, the masterpiece was finished!  Job well done girls!
The boys did a very thorough cleaning of their pumpkin as well.. it's serious business, this pumpkin thing!
Handsome H did the seed sorting out of pure OCD, which greatly pleased (and surprised!) this OCD mama! :)
With a little enlisted help from the boys, dad came in with a more professional take and decided to stencil their artwork rather than attempt a freehand approach.. 
I guess it turned out ok.. ;)
Pumpkin carving in Brazil?  CHECK! :)

Party Hardy

I am one of those moms who has a hard time letting my kids go.  A pro and a con I'll admit.  I am usually the first to tear up at events whether big or small, or with the slightest sign that they may be growing up (ex. doing their own hair, making their bed without a reminder, not asking for help with homework, losing a tooth, etc).  It is this reality that drove me to volunteer to be room mom for all 3 of my kids' classes this year.  Before you raise eyebrows and tell me to get a life, let me just say that it has been the most rewarding opportunity!  I LOVE working alongside the teachers whenever possible, and getting my hands dirty right alongside the kids! :)  One of the biggest perks of being room mom?  Communication.  Communication with the teachers, and communication with my kids.  It's wonderful to know who they are talking about when they mention little Billy on the playground, or Suzie at lunch.  Okay, so there are no Billy's or Suzie's here in Brazil, but you get my point! ;)
This year I was able to take charge of the art projects for the Halloween parties, and help coordinate the food being brought in by the parents.  Both my boys' classes did 3 projects the day of the party:
  • Paper Bag Pumpkins - brown lunch bags stuffed with crumpled newspapers and painted bright orange (minus the stem of course!).
  • Witch Hands  - plastic gloves filled with candy corn for nails and popcorn.
  • Glitter Webs - children trace glue onto a pre-drawn web design and (with a little parental help), sprinkle it with glitter.  You can then make spiders using an ink pad and their thumb prints to put around the webs. :)
As if that wasn't enough I also made 75 "dirt and worm" pudding cups to distribute amongst the 3 classes.  It reminded me of my teaching days. Those were fun days.. 
We made these adorable skeletons with multicolored noodles too. SUPER cute!
Since the boys' parties were at the same time, I got a decent workout that day running back and forth between classes. In both classes there were FANTASTIC mom volunteers helping do all the dirty work so it ran incredibly smoothly! It was great to be a part of the fun for both Sir L,
and my handsome Mr H!
The projects turned out fantastic! I do so love Halloween :)
The classes went trick-or-treating from one room to the next which was BEYOND adorable to watch! 
Here's Sir L with one of his teachers and about half of their class :)
One of the most amazing things this year has been to watch my little man go from being incredibly independent and not really caring to interact with other kids his age, to making friends and even designating a "best Best BEST friend"!
Handsome H is one of the older kids in his class this year (it's a Montessori mix of K3, K4 & K5's). It has really helped him come out of his shell and step into a leadership role with the new "big kid" title that he so proudly wears!
Even though he's "big" now, he's not too cool to stop and show some TLC to his sweet teachers :). That's my little man!
With the help of some amazing moms, each class had quite the spread!
Miss B's party was later in the afternoon (thank heavens!). They had quite the spread as well!
..Complete with a squash monster inspired by the Mo Willem's pigeon series books :).  LOVE it!
Although the 1st graders don't go trick-or-treating from class to class, the moms pitched in so they could collect all their goodies around a well stocked table! Let's just say that NO ONE went home complaining ;)
Miss B has quite the tight little group of friends going on this year - it is so sweet to watch my once shy little girl turn into a crazy social butterfly!
I just can't get enough of these two!!!
The whole group :)
Every once in a while we're lucky enough to capture one of those pictures that really is worth a thousand words. These next two speak VOLUMES as the girls watched the school parade approach.. It may be an American holiday, but the school threw in a little Brazilian flare as the parade was led by samba drums! It was incredibly loud and SO cool! All of the Lower School classes were paraded in costume through the halls of the school where anxious parents waited amongst the Middle and High Schoolers to cheer them on. It creates such a sense of unity and excitement! Sir L was home by this time (the noise tends to cause some of the younger kiddos to freak), so just Miss B and Handsome H were a part of it.. though (as you can see from the video), it was a bit hard to get Handsome H's attention amidst all the ruckus!  I'm sure they will forever be gravely disappointed by school Halloween parties once we return to the States..

Off to join the parade!
H was quite relieved when he finally spotted me.. it took a while and as it was his first time being a part of the big parade, he was happy to have the extra reassurance ;).
I feel so blessed to have my kids be a part of such a great school and all of these multi-cultural events!  An American-Brazilian Halloween?  DEFINITELY a winner in my book! :)