Saying goodbye is hard to do..

Where to start?!  I could go on and on and ON about how fortunate we were to have some of the most AMAZING friends and teachers in Brazil!  How they went the extra mile and really made the experience seem like a giant family reunion rather than stumbling through a new culture and country.  How our kids were genuinely LOVED and cared for beyond any hopes I ever had for their first school experience.  How I could call my girlfriends at any time, for any reason or none at all, and I knew they would be there for me.  So saying goodbye?  Yeah.  That, was HARD!! :(  But alas, pictures speak a thousand words..

We had a farewell churrasco with some of our friends from school and church before we left.  It was PERFECT.  I was completely able to have fun and pretend like leaving was still months and not just days away!
What started out as a rocky school year with a head strong little boy who wanted to stay with his mom and hated taking "no" as an answer, turned into nothing short of miraculous due to the two women that we were fortunate enough to have as his teachers.  Kicking and hitting, screaming and crying (from me too!), turned into hugs, kisses and gentle waves goodbye as my little boy was shaped by these two teachers and now genuine friends.  Saying goodbye would have been easier without them in our lives!  He and I have been forever touched by their influence!

At a little farewell classroom party, he was presented with a sweet gift that is now a treasured keepsake..
Cupcakes can sometimes make you cry.  Or maybe I'm just special.. ;)
No, I blame this woman right here for MANY of the tears I shed!  Sir L refers to her as "My Nana" :)
This was one school year that won't soon be forgotten!
For two years Handsome H was beyond lucky to have 2 more of the GREATEST teachers in the school! Renata, who was on maternity leave, made this video for him that they played during his little farewell party.. taking pictures with tear filled eyes, for those who have not done it, is HARD!! :(
That got me right there! :(
He LOVED his presented school shirt signed by all of his friends and pronounced it a treasure to be kept and never worn!
Fernanda let him pick some of his favorite songs to sing before it was over and I think that was the icing on the cake for him! :)
Of course, we had to get some cute pictures of the class visitors too ;)
Such a fun class full of great friends and incredible teachers!!
I love that whether in the classroom or out, these ladies REALLY care!  That is something hard to come by these days it seems..
My sweet, shy boy has grown in countless ways, both academically and socially.  It has truly been such a privilege to watch!
I am SO sad and embarrassed to admit that my camera was dead when we went to Bailey's farewell.. apparently you're supposed to switch it "off" to preserve battery life.. who knew?! :P  Her sweet teacher Tracey made this great video for her: 
It's crazy to look back over the past two years and realize exactly how FAR she's come and how much she's grown!  She had a tight little group of girlfriends that was hard to say goodbye to.  Her shy quiet little self was in many was conquered and overcome by this new excited, happy and bubbly version that is as endearing as ever!!

I have mentioned Amazing V before - she used to work for us full time, cleaning house and providing us with Friday date nights for our first year in Brazil.  Our 2nd year we opted to be a little more American and have her come to help only once a week.  Work aside, Vera has become one of my greatest friends.  Her example of hard work and diligence has surpassed all else.  She forwent many popular and socially common things and events to pull her sweet family out of a dangerous favella and into a home that took them years to build together.  Piece by piece as money was saved, they did it, without incurring any debt, and though incredibly modest by most standards, it is the greatest success story I've ever witnessed!  I am SO proud of her and what she has been able to accomplish.  With only a 3rd grade education under her belt, I never imagined that she could have taught me SO much.

When Channing was born, she insisted on working an extra day to get everything extra clean for him.  She would not accept money for her time, and it was very hard for me to accept her service.  She insisted that she didn't have a fancy gift to give him or us, but she could offer time, as little as it was, she prayed we would accept.  I tried to explain to her that her "gift" was nothing to be ashamed of.  The quote by President Gordon B Hinckley from the Mormon church sums it up well, "He who gives money gives much.  He who gives time gives more.  He who gives of himself gives all."  She truly gave of herself, and taught me what that really means.  She and her family will forever have place in our hearts and in our home.
So here's to friends that are more like family.  Teachers that teach more than they were hired to.  And a country that has helped us shape our own personal family culture!  Que saudades Brasil!


Pushing Pause

No updates here!  Just basking in the glow of pictures - I love having a reason to photograph my little sweethearts.. product photography anyone?? :)  Don't mind if I do!!
Good heavens I love these kids!! :)


Triple Threat

You see?  I keep my promises!! ;)  Here it is, the moment you've all been waiting for..  presenting, Princess P's 3rd birthday (3months late..)!!!  I can hear the squeals and shrieks of excitement already ;)

The day started off like any other birthday morning in the Hooley household with the infamous breakfast in bed!  (Don't mind my focusing on the food rather than her sweet face.. apparently I was hungry or something!) 
Gma gave her the hookup with a sweet wooden castle which she LOVED!!
For lunch we went to Mickey D's and she was in her glory having me all to herself! ;)
After a loooong day of patiently waiting it was present time :)  With so many siblings she was spoiled properly:
The icing on the cake was her new LeapPad - her older counterparts have had theirs for over a year and she realized she'd been jipped quite a ways back!
 May I take a moment to explain this sad excuse for a cake??  With the movers only days away, we had been clearing out the pantry.. I was out of sugar and everything I needed to make icing, and I had this lovely jar of jelly from the US that I didn't want to throw away.. so yes, I slopped a jar of jelly on my 3yr olds birthday cake.. does that make me a bad mom?  Or maybe just a slacker??  Sorry P.. desperate times ;P
This sweet girl has brought so much joy into our family!  I could write a book of stories on her and her silly antics and personality traits, but alas, I will share only 3:

1 - SPUNK!!  I've yet to meet her match!  She keeps us on her toes with her quick and witty (at times sassy!) comments.  She has SO much personality for such a little thing, and my word is she SMART!!  You can't pull one over on her - she'll call your bluff and make you eat it too!  LOVE this little turkey I do! ;)
2 - LAUGH.  It's mischievous meets villain meets a whole lotta crazy and it is so stinkin hilarious you just can't help but join in! (See video below!)
3 - TEASE.  I didn't realize a child could be sarcastic but she LOVES to tease and torment, and she thinks she's just as funny as everyone else seems to (minus her brothers who she has figured out how to make cry).  It takes a lot of confidence to take on the "big kids"! ;)

I ADORE this girl and the laughs, smiles, and drama that she brings into our lives!!  There's never a dull moment with her and I wouldn't have it any other way.  Happy (belated) birthday Princess!!

EXTRA:  You know how people say to nap while the new baby is napping??  Well, I honestly can't remember the last time that was ever a possibility!  Lol, my attempt at a nap a few months after Baby C was born turned into a hand sanitizer attack like you've never seen!  Thanks P for making sure we stay clean and keep the baby healthy.. that was her intent, right?? ;)