Sunday, September 25, 2011


The kids have begun making friends with the Brazilian kids at their school. Last weekend, the girls went to a birthday pool party of a classmate. They were the only Americans there, and they were surprised and delighted by the tuxedoed waiters bringing them popsicles and hot dogs on a silver platter. Grace remarked that every time she dropped a hot dog in the pool, there was a waiter at her elbow, offering her a new one.  Brazilian parties tend to be a little more lavish than American birthday parties. It also lasted about six hours, and was still going strong when we left. They had a great time and the host family was incredibly welcoming and gracious. For example, my kids have gotten several shades darker since we moved here, but there's no getting around their Irish ancestry and they still glow in the dark a bit, so when we arrived, although the avó (grandmother) didn't speak a word of English, she took one look at my girls and came rushing out with some sunblock. I'm not saying I wanted them to adopt me or anything, but after they kissed both my cheeks I was ready to be their foster kid.

Jack has been playing futebol and I have to say, I am amazed at how brave he has been. Brazilian kids basically start playing upon exit from the womb, and their skill level is insane. But Jack, who quit playing in middle school, has been working his butt off every practice and the Brazilians have helped and encouraged him, translating what the coach says and yes, laughing with him when he messes up, but clapping him on the back when he does well.

Even the kids from the opposing team are good sports when the ball isn't in play.

Here are the girls, clearly riveted by the game. Henry split with his hooligan 10 year-old posse as soon as we got there.

I too, am trying to adopt a more Brazilian attitude by letting go of some of my control freak nature and allowing the kids more freedom in the kitchen. This may or may not be directly related to the fact that I have someone else cleaning my house now. I even let the girls put the cheese grating attachment on the mixer and grate all the cheese for the pizzas themselves.

Whole wheat flour, courtesy of Amazon. Shut up! Whole wheat pizza is delish. As long as it has lots of cheese and pepperoni and sauce and stuff on it.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

You know where to come if you get a headache.

I've had a blissful day putting my UAB things away. It was only eight boxes of stuff, but having not seen anything except what we had in our suitcases since June, it was quite a celebration around here. So much so that Henry, uh, got "sick" and had to stay home from school and play xBox all day today. I know, you don't have to tell me about my excellent mothering skills.

Everyone got something they really, really wanted.  Olivia got her Dog Academy Playset and she and Grace got two bins full of skanky Barbies and dolls and stuffed animals. I've barely seen them since they disappeared into their room to play.

Henry also got one of his bins of Legos and Jack got one of his guitars. We also got our desktop and the wireless modem so we can now use our laptops and Kindle wi-fi and whatnot. Right on the day that Kindle began lending library books, which, YAY.

Mitch and I were happy to have our own coffee mugs and I have all my lovely kitchen things. Well, not all, but at least the most important ones.

Hello, Lover:

We got some weird stuff, too, like my blender box but no blender. One thing we got that I had no idea how happy it would make me is the pepper grinder. The only pepper you can find here is this powdery stuff, and forget about peppercorns.

Oh, and we got something else! But before I show you, you must first know that my kids get migraines, and if they take ibuprofen right away, their heads don't spin around while vomit spews all over the room. So, you can imagine that having ibuprofen on hand is very important to me. Would you like to know how important?

This important:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

UAB. Finally.

We're going on 10 weeks without our air baggage, although it's been in Brasilia for the past four weeks at least. Today I learned that if you cry in front of a Brazilian man, you can make things happen. A mere four hours after I cried in someone's office:

I'm working on my tears for when we find out where our HHE and car are.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Diplomatic FAIL

Henry went for a sleepover at his good buddy's house. The friend's dad happens to be the Diplomatic Chief of Mission of the Israeli embassy. When we picked him up, this was the shirt Henry had on:

Oy. Vey.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Up for Adoption

We got a pouch shipment yesterday.

"Oh my gosh, mom! You got ANOTHER pair of shoes?"

"Hey, Henry, I work hard and I deserve these shoes."

"By working hard, do you mean like getting your money out of your wallet to pay the maid?"

Oh, yes he did.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Yes, we have some bananas.

Cheap telescoping piece of junk that broke upon first
use: R$ 47

Curved machete/zombie killing blade to stick on the end of
the CTPOJ: R$ 26
Sheet from welcome kit that became permanently stained with banana juice: $ undetermined

Chiropracter/massage therapist bills for ruined shoulder, about  R$ 125
Acquiring bananas from our very own tree, about -minus $200 um, PRICELESS!

Friday, September 9, 2011


The house is smoky, you can't see more than a few feet outside from the wildfires. Stay tuned....


Friends and family: We're fine. If you can't reach us by phone it's because we are probably at the embassy where the air is clear.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Jardim Zoológico

We took the younger kids to the Brasilia Zoo this weekend while Jack slept off the effects of a school "lock-in" in which the entire high school spent the night at school playing games, eating, and not sleeping, followed by his soccer game. The zoo covers 340 acres and has about 1300 animals, but I'm not sure if that includes the capybaras all over the place.  Shudder. The capybara is the world's largest rodent. Shudder. And they seem to have the run of the place.

Piles of capybara turds were everywhere. You're welcome!
The zoo is vast, and you can drive all through the middle of it. There aren't sidewalks on the road, and Brazilian drivers are very, um, assertive, so it's best to stay on the grass (earth? dirt? ground that's not paved? it's hard to tell what exactly you're walking on here in the dry season), while constantly being on the lookout for capybara droppings.
"SLOW! ANIMALS ON ROAD" (but hey, don't worry about the toddlers).

The paths can be treacherous in other ways as well, which is why a clumsy girl like me may or may not have tripped more than once, in addition to landing in capybara piles.
The scene of  my first accident.
You Americans, with your debris-free zoos don't know what you're missing.  This is good climbing!

A trip to the zoo is pretty much the cheapest gig in town, with the cost of admission PLUS lunch being R$22, or about 13 bucks for all five of us.
Yummy pastels.
The zoo has a pretty good variety of South American animals and birds, as well as some big zoo draws like elephants and giraffes.

The kids particularly enjoyed a big pond/lake thing filled with all these islands of different monkeys. And capybaras, of course.

Wait a minute...That's not a monkey!  That's a.....shadow of a minotaur? This zoo is awesome!

The zoo was filled with Brazilian families picnicking and...
Taking naps?  Have hammock, will travel! You know, it's a lot of work walking around a zoo all day, and if there's one thing Brazilians love, it's resting in hammocks. They were strung all over the zoo.

Next time I'm going to:
a.) wear more sensible shoes,
b.) bring toilet paper (don't ask), and
c.) bring my own hammock.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Bom dia!

There's not a lot to blog about, and I don't want to bore y'all, so I've been absent. We haven't done very much here in Brasilia yet, because you really need a car in this city, and when we're able to get a car from the embassy on the weekends, it's all we can do to get groceries into the house and shuttle the kids to their various activities. I don't hold out much hope that we'll get our car, air baggage, or the rest of our stuff any time soon, and it's honestly getting pretty old living out of what we brought in our suitcases for the past several months. I think the Brazilian customs agents, well, I have a lot of thoughts about them, but I'm wearing my diplomacy shoes right now (even though they really hurt my feet), so I'm just going to say that I'm sure they're doing their best.

I do get out of the house two days a week to go to language training at the embassy, and I've met some lovely people. My house is sparkling, thanks to our new cleaner (sent over by one of said lovely people), who even rolled up the toothpaste tubes in the bathrooms and cleaned out my refrigerator. The kids thought it was hilarious that she arrived dressed up nicer than I ever look (not saying much-you can take the Pacific Northwest out of the girl...). I've also been taking lots of walks on the path along the lake which is filled with walkers and joggers, none of whom you can pass without exchanging the "bom dia!" greeting. It always puts me in a better mood, if only to affirm the fact that I have at least mastered two portuguese words. Fitness is pretty big in Brazil, especially while wearing next to nothing. This morning a young, verrrrry fit, Brazilian men's group of some kind was standing on the dock in their teensy Speedos, working out after having just finished a swim.  I'm pretty sure the swelling in my nose will go down soon from walking into that tree. I don't know why they planted it so close to the path.

It still hasn't rained and everything is dusty. The kids are getting bloody noses from the dry air, and the dog is constantly filthy from the dry, red dirt that is everywhere. Olivia has taken it upon herself to give him a bath every week, which basically amounts to just getting him wet enough to turn into a furry mudball and then letting him run all over the house flinging said mud everywhere.

We're becoming familiar with all sorts of new creatures. Unfortunately, they always seem to appear in the girls' bathroom. They've taken to shutting the door and stuffing a towel under it at night. We don't have a terrible problem with ants, but the ones we do have are strong. I've seen one carrying an entire Golden Graham and another carrying a piece of popcorn across the floor. I always feel bad squashing them after witnessing their herculean efforts, but I don't want them to go tell all their friends about the family with messy children who drop food everywhere.