Saturday, May 31, 2014


I happened upon this article about the ritual surrounding challah, a gorgeous Jewish egg bread, and decided I'd better give making it a try. The bread turned out to be amazing (both in looks and in taste), and I've made it a few times since the original in November. But more important than the bread were a number of points in the article:
  • "[It is poignant] that Jewish bread took on the identity of the mitzvah (religious duty) associated with it."
  • "Women, traditionally the bread makers, came to express themselves creatively through two challah-related practices. The first is the very shaping and creation of challah....The second venue for creativity was the writing of prayers, t'chines, for the taking of the challah ritual. T'chine is the Yiddish name for the women's devotional prayers created by and for women among Ashkenazic communities.
    According to Chavah Weissler, in her work, Voices of the Matriarchs many t'chines, evolved around mitzvahs and rituals unique to women, among them, of course, challah baking. Here is a sampling of this most lovely of prayer genres:
    May my challah be accepted as the sacrifice on the altar was accepted. May my mitzvah be accepted just as if I had performed it properly…May the Divine grant that I and my husband and my children be able to nourish ourselves….
    Lord of all worlds, in your hands is all blessing. I come now to honor your holiness, and I pray you to give your blessing on what I bake. Send an angel to guard the baking, so that everything will be well baked, will rise nicely, and will not burn, to honor your holy Sabbath and over which one recites the holy blessing — as you blessed the dough of Sarah and Rebecca, our mothers…
I loved that idea of the Lord accepting my offering, my work, my soul, "just as if I had performed it correctly." I love knowing that my best efforts will inevitably fall short but that the Lord still accepts my imperfect offering if it's made with a perfect heart and perfect effort. This is particularly comforting when my work with my kids seems futile.

The other connection was to Alma 34 where Amulek speaks of praying over our fields, houses, animals, and everything that is important. These prayers over the challah might seem trivial, but the Lord truly cares and wants to hear from us about even these seemingly small things.

Here's the recipe I found. Now go give it a try!
Mmmmmm, bread.

Friday, May 30, 2014


I am not nearly as creative as my sister-in-law when it comes to Halloween, but I made it work OK this year. Halloween isn't really celebrated much in Brazil, so we had to make do with what I had on hand.

Nora's was pretty easy. I used Joseph's newborn pumpkin costume my mom made and threw on a pair of second-hand Halloween pants and a green onesie. Adorable.
 Joseph's took some creativity. I turned a pair of black skeleton PJs (my mom sent them for last Halloween, but they didn't arrive before we left for the US on Halloween to get our visas) inside-out and put on a pair of his training pants over the top. The hat is from Jake's trip to China in 2011. Apparently, they're all the rage among teenage girls.
 We kind of slapped together Jake's costume the night before. He's an American tourist: socks with flip-flops, Hawaiian-print shorts, too-big shirt, throwaway undershirt, hat backwards, and enormous sunglasses. He made it authentic by roaming the office asking, loudly, if people spoke English and where he could buy a caipirinha.

The kids and I went to a friend's house for snacks and Halloween crafts. Joseph's "monster" consisted of three googly eyes on the the paper tube. He spent the rest of the time carefully lining up the stickers.
Nora turned 10 months old two days before Halloween. She's kind of adorable.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Sítio

People who live in São Paulo don't like to stay in the city on the weekends. Many wealthy families have weekend homes an hour or so drive outside the city. Other families will spend a weekend at a sítio. The best short translation of the word is "ranch," but like a dude ranch. There might be horses and other farm animals, walking trails, swimming pool, soccer pitch (of course), picnic areas, and grills for churrasco. We went to one of these sítios in October for a church activity and had a great time.
Swings. Joseph talked about them for weeks.

Nora had a great time in the front pack.

Going across the swaying bridge.

Bridge at the playground. I think he could have spent hours here.

Poking sticks in sand. It's good to be little.

It's not a Brazilian party unless there's soccer. Jake's in the blue shirt.
She was more than ready to get out of the pack. We had to keep a sharp eye on her because she wanted to put everything in her mouth and crawl down the steps.
Let's go, Dad!

Orange "bubble juice" at lunch.
It's also not a Brazilian party without copious amounts of grilled meat on sticks, rice, beans, and soda.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Joseph Turns Three (and General Update)

I'm planning on several catch-up posts in the next while. I hate scrapbooking, so this is the best family history my kids are going to get.

Joseph turned three in October.

Birthday Cheeser

With black and white balloons for his panda party later that week.
 We had a lot of fun celebrating with our little family and later with friends. On the night of his birthday, he had a meltdown at dinner so we moved celebrations to the following evening. He had a birthday pavê, and Jake kindly helped Joseph blow out the candles.

Make a wish!
He also had quite the gift haul. We had brought back lots of presents from family during our visit to the US in July.

That is one lucky kid.
I think his favorite was a new panda, dubbed "Squeaky Panda," from Nora.
"Show Mommy Squeaky Panda?"
That Saturday, we had a few friends from our ward over for snacks and cake. I had spent a long time planning and working on all of it, and it was incredibly satisfying to see it all come together. Everyone had a good time, and the food turned out great. Joseph was so excited to have a panda cake. Over six months later he was still talking about it.

Invitation, main cake, Squeaky Panda, and cupcakes.
Our birthday boy!
I didn't get to his annual check-up until February (mother of the year right here, folks!), but his physical development is all on track. He's a little on the tall side and a little on the thin side. He was wearing 3T clothes on his birthday, but the adjustable waist on the pants had to be cinched in as tight as they would go or they would have fallen off. His 3T shirts are now starting to get a little small, and we'll probably be breaking out the next size before too long. I only put the last of his 2T shorts away about a month ago, so we'll be in 3T shorts for awhile yet, I imagine. His 3T long pants, while still cinched in almost as far as they will go, are beginning to get short. It's a good thing it's warm in Brazil for most of the year; shorts are much more forgiving.

Joseph loves to run and jump and play. He knows the names and locations of about 25 countries on our map and is always eager to learn more. He's got many of his books memorized. We have been working on letter sounds and just this week he started putting them together to make two-letter words. He loves numbers and has been working hard to count objects one at a time. We'll count beans into a muffin tin with the numbers 1-12 on the inside. Around Christmas, he started singing with us finally, and that has been fun as we've been learning the Primary songs this year. We've also been doing action songs like "Popcorn Popping" and "Do As I'm Doing."
We're so happy to have this fun little boy as a part of our family. His happy smile and infectious laugh brighten our days.