RECIPE: Refried Beans & Salsa

I adore Mexican food.  It's comical how many people remark - "Oh wow, Brazil!  You must get some GREAT Mexican food out there!" ..well, actually, NO.  The only thing that Mexico and Brazil have in common is that they are both "Latin American" countries, but let us remember - they aren't even on the same continent!  If you want great Mexican food, go to Mexico.  Come to Brazil, and you'll be sorely disappointed.

For starters, Brazilians do not like spicy food.  In the US, salt & pepper are married.  In Brazil, they've never even met!  It is salt only on the tables out here folks - pepper wasn't invited to this party!  That's not to say you can't find the occasional imported jar of salsa or taco shells.. you'll just pay a good ole' hefty imported price for them (think R$35 for taco shells - that's about $15!!).  No thank you.

THIS is what brought me to search for this priceless recipe:  Refried beans.  In the slow cooker!  Seriously, it doesn't get easier than this - and the taste??  I swear you will never see a can of beans in my house again - once you try these, you'll never go back!  The hubster doesn't even like refried beans.. or at least he didn't.. until now! :)  Click here to get the recipe.  You won't regret it!  (If you have a food processor, a few quick pulses when it's done will save you the mashing and you don't have to pre-chop the jalapeno.. SO SIMPLE!!)
And while you're at it, hop on over here for some LOVELY salsa.. YES PLEASE!!  And now I'm off to the kitchen..

Bitter Sweet

I guess I've always known it, but the past 6 months have proved it to be true: The only thing I know for certain is that nothing is for certain!

My husband gave me the heads up about our move out of SP back in October, and the location has changed as much as the deadline to leave! December to January to February to March and now finally to the end of April. Dubai, Portugal, Germany, South Africa, Australia - there weren't many avenues that were left unexplored.. It's no secret that my preference was to stay abroad, (and heaven knows we tried!), but the perfect opportunity just never panned out.. unless of course, you count Texas. I mean, I guess it's the next best thing to being abroad, seeing as it practically is its own country (seriously, what other state in the US has a waffle maker made in the shape of it??). I've personally never been outside the DFW airport, but many a friend have exclaimed, "Texas?! I can SO see you there!!" .. I'm not quite sure what that means just yet ..

Although I know that that deep Texas pride is only a few months away, I still can't get myself to be completely excited about the move. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of pros to being back in the US - we'll even be close to family this time around! But right now, the main thought that Texas brings, is the reality that getting there means I have to leave here.. and that just makes me want to cry. By far this will be the hardest move we've ever had to make. In no other place have we grown so much both as individuals, and as a family in such a short period of time. Two years have flown by, and I am honestly having a hard time wrapping my mind around "the end". So please, don't tell me how excited I should be about living in Texas just yet.. because even though I am, right now I don't want to be robbed of the opportunity to be sad, and even a little upset that I'm leaving a country that I have come to love for a myriad of different reasons. Eu amo o Brasil!!


Shoot It

Something about having a 5th child, in an area outside of Utah and Idaho causes people to ask all sorts of questions:

"Are they ALLLLL yours?!"
"Did you plan it that way?" - usually accompanied by a stark white complexion and eyes filled with horror.
"But you're done now, right?" - these people are usually quite fun to mess with ;)
"Are you Mormon or Catholic?"
"How old are you?!"
And my personal favorite, "Wooow.. how do you do it?".  I'm never quite sure how to answer that last one.  Umm, one day at a time?  With patience and long suffering?  Quick one-liners never seem to satisfy, and all of the sudden I see a desperate sense of longing in their eyes to unlock the secrets of successful parenting, because clearly, anyone with more than 3 children MUST have all the answers right??  Oh how I wish that were true!  I have opinions, sure, but I am no longer naive in thinking that there is ONE right answer for everyone.  Parenting is unique.  Personal.  As different as each of us and each of our children.  What may work for me may not work for you, and vice versa.  And you know what?  That's completely fine!  If I have learned one thing from living abroad it is this:  there is no ONE right way to succeed.  No matter what your upbringing, your culture, financial status, personality traits and personal breaking points may be, there are countless ways to bring up a great, well rounded child.  Countless ways to achieve a genuinely happy family life.  Evaluate your expectations, your hopes and dreams for your kids, for your family, and for yourself, study out the available paths you can take to get to where you want to go, do your best, and above all, be willing to stop, reevaluate, make some changes, and try, try again!  What more can any of us hope for?  I've heard it said that it takes a village to raise a child.. how true that is turning out to be!

This past Friday I wanted to document just a regular "day in the life of me".  It's nothing glamorous, but it's my life, and it makes me happy! :)  I saw the idea to take a picture every hour.  In order to fit everything in and be realistic, I opted to do a picture every 30minutes instead.  So, without further adieu, here is a typical Friday as they stand right now:  

5:30am - Wake up.  Nurse the baby.  At this point I was still half asleep and didn't remember that I wanted to take pictures until he was happy with a full belly.. oops. 
6:00am - Time to get ready!
6:30am - Get kids ready.

7:00am - Breakfast and top off baby.  Yes, I can nurse one handed.  It's how I roll. 

7:30am - Family scripture reading and prayer.  We use an iPad app with children's versions of the stories with pictures.  LIFE SAVER.
8:00am - Take the kiddos to school (the 3 eldest that is).
8:30am - Off to the feira with Princess P and Baby C in tow.
9:00am - On to the meat store.. yes, that's raw meat all over the back counter.  No, they don't use gloves.  Or hairnets..
9:30am - Heading home.
10:00am - Unscheduled diaper explosion with resulting impromptu bath.  Happy Baby C.  You're welcome little dude.  
10:30am - Organize and put away the spoils.
11:00am - LUNCH = Happy mom.  Simultaneous baby feeding = Happy baby.
11:30am - Dishes anyone??  (No Amazing V isn't slacking.. I guess I never did mention that we only have her clean one day a week now instead of the original 5 (we made the switch back in July after our trip to the US).. after I got used to life abroad I just didn't want someone in my house all the time anymore.  Even if that did mean less than sparkling floors 24/7.)
12:00pm - Pick up Sir L from school.
12:30pm - After school snack at the park.

1:00pm - Kids playing, baby sleeping = mommy gets in a little reading time!  I mark up my books.  I'm rebellious like that.
1:30pm - Precious downtime. :)
2:00pm - Hunger strikes again.
2:30pm - Straighten up.
3:00pm - Pick up Miss B and Mr H from school :)  Silly kids!
3:30pm - Prep pizza dough for dinner.  Friday night = pizza night! :)
4:00pm - Chores.  Teamwork is a beautiful thing!  (One of the major reasons I wanted less help was so my kids could have more responsibility.. we won't be in Brazil forever so they best get used to it now!)
4:30pm - My little pizza making pros :)
5:00pm - Get ready for bed.
5:30pm -  Pizza's ready!!  This Hooley family movie night brought to you by Netflix.
6:00pm - Popcorn's ready!

6:30pm - Desert anyone?
7:00pm - Bedtime routines.
7:30pm - Me time. :)
Not too shabby for a 14hr day!  As long as I stick to my schedule and have the ability to multi task, I am generally very happy with what can be done in the course of one day.  The only downside is come 7:30pm I am D-O-N-E being a mom.  I have nothing left to give in that era of my life.  It's time to be a wife and just plain old Erin.  But don't be surprised if I'm out cold by 9! ;)