Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Few of My Favorite (Brazilian) Things

I realize that when I write about myself, I sound dejected and lonely all the time. Au contrair, my friends! I just happen to write more when I feel that way. It's a curse. So, lest you think I hate Brazil, here are some awesome things in my life.

The countertops by the sink have this fantastic lip, which makes cleaning them a snap because water doesn't get on the floor. This is especially handy because we don't have a dishwasher and our dishrack goes on the counter. Excess water gets mini-squeegeed into the sink. The only downside is that the corners are really hard to keep spotless. I've found that keeping an old toothbrush nearby for stubborn nastiness and towel-drying the corners after doing the dishes seem to do the trick.

My stovetop has a glass cover, and though it's annoying to keep clean, it automatically makes more counter space. Since I don't have many convenient outlets, I use the cover a lot when I'm using small appliances like my stand mixer or crock pot.

Mangoes. Did I mention I love them? I've never had a good one in the US (though that may be in part because I didn't know how to choose a ripe one: soft but not mushy, like an avocado), and they are abundant and delicious here. My kids love them too, so we go through a lot. Thanks to YouTube, I learned how to cut them for serving. Slice the sides off, avoiding the nut inside, and slice the flesh without piercing the skin. Push the skin like you're turning it inside-out, and slice off the cubes of fruit. You're welcome. Go eat a mango.

Saturday, October 12, 2013


Playing trains together, August 2013.

As far as their togetherness, the kids are pretty good. Nora is far less maintenance than Joseph ever was, so when I have to deal with Joseph, she mostly keeps herself out of trouble. Now that she's very mobile, I have to keep a more careful eye on her, but she plays in one place by herself in a way Joseph didn't until he was 2.
Just before Mother's Day, May 2013
She likes to watch Joseph and tries to do what he's doing. Wednesday he was jumping inside the ottoman, and she had pulled herself up to the side to watch. After he jumped a few times, she started moving one of her legs up and down. He stopped and so did she. A few minutes later it happened again. He shrieks; she shrieks. It's fun to watch most of the time, but she doesn't realize that she's little, and neither does he. He wants to play rough with her sometimes, and I think she'd be game, but he doesn't understand the difference in their strengths and abilities.
Working together to hack into the computer, September 2013.
I hope they can continue to be friends, but he's also starting to realize that she has the ability to play with many of his toys and even ruin some of the things he's playing with, so sharing and taking turns are hard for him.
Playing trains together, August 2013.

He's affectionate and sweet most of the time. He likes to "Div her tisses?" when she's crying, and feels sad when he accidentally (or on purpose) hurts her.
Affection or smothering? You be the judge.
He is learning so much, both on academic and moral levels. I'm so proud of the strides he's made and how hard he works to be understood and solve problems.

Friday, October 11, 2013

And the Parents?

I wrote this post about two months ago, as it was supposed to go with the previous posts about Joseph and Nora. I have updated a few things.

Jake is hard at work in his calling and at his job. Rodizio on Tuesdays is the bane of my existence. When Jake is gone by 6:30 am and home later than 8:30, that means he sometimes doesn't see the kids for nearly 48 hours (Monday night at bedtime to Wednesday night at dinner). It means a long day for all of us. There is a lot to do at work, and, with a recent change as a department head and the big bosses coming to Brazil later this year, a lot of stress and responsibility. His church calling is demanding, though not much more than it has been for the last year or so, and between meetings, interviews, activities, and visits, he's a pretty busy guy. He is wonderful to be home as much as possible, and it's fun to see the kids light up when they hear his key in the door.

We've discovered a way to get our exercise as a family by going to the park together on Saturday mornings. Joseph goes in the jogger while Jake pushes, and Nora goes in the umbrella stroller with me. He runs two laps, I walk one, and if I'm feeling ambitious, I'll run one more after swapping strollers. We end with a quick ride on the playground horses and a liter of coconut water cold from two hours in our freezer. It's a fantastic way to spend a Saturday morning.

After the kids go to bed, we finish cleaning up from dinner and will often turn to Netflix for the evening's entertainment. We're currently in the middle of The Hour, a BBC series about a news program in the 1950s. We also do rentals on Amazon or iTunes and loved the newest Star Trek movie as well as a documentary about pro skateboarders called "The Motivation." Sometimes Jake will watch League of Legends games while I crochet (I just started an adorable top for Nora, and it's probably a good thing that it's a 2T size; I might not get it done before it fits her). We also started listening to This American Life from NPR, and I've really enjoyed listening to Conversations from the Mormon Channel.

My world revolves around the kids. Circumstances at this stage in our lives require that, but I look forward to our kids' increasing independence. Perhaps that's silly to think too much about when our kids are almost 3 years old and 9 months old (and we anticipate more children sometime in the future), but it's nice to think that potty training and tantrums won't last forever. It's fun to watch the kids learn so much and master some new skill. I'm excited that Nora is finally eating solids and that Joseph needs less help with the potty.

I sometimes get frustrated at my continued inability to speak Portuguese (though it's much improved from a year ago) and my impatience with my busy kids, and I have to remember that there are seasons of life, and that even though this season isn't exactly what I imagined for myself, it won't last forever, and I need to enjoy the many good things (fresh mangoes, anyone?). I miss public libraries and the ability to go beyond my neighborhood. I really miss my family. I miss canned beans (though we just bought a pressure cooker, and after several EPIC fails, I've had one success). I miss inexpensive, reasonably well-made products. I miss being able to drive somewhere just because I feel like it or the ease with which I used to run a non-essential errand. I miss sitting with Jake in Sacrament meeting. I miss being alone, but that wouldn't be much different anywhere else in the world.

 My life is good though, and my kids are wonderful. We're kicking butt with our student debt, which would not have been possible to this degree without this job. We should be debt free around the beginning of 2014! Woohoo! I often look around at the poverty and homelessness, even in our trendy neighborhood, and think as I have thought so often since our move to Brazil, "There but for the grace of God go I." I hold my kids a little tighter and try to be nicer to my husband, who works so hard for our little family. We are so lucky. So blessed.