Thursday, April 26, 2012


Just so you know it's not all  pony rides, parties, and meeting famous government officials here at Casa Pullingstakes, I've decided to share with you a few of the less impressive moments we've had around here recently. Also, my friend Jill wants to hear about the chaos in her fellow foreign service bloggers' lives. Which, on any given day, I've got a story for.

This week, Seamus (our long-suffering-but-well-travelled-dog) and I had matching moles removed. Well, mine was a mole. His was a big gross knob of grossness. But they were in the same spot, on both our right shoulders. I'm pretty sure that makes us dermatology soulmates or something. Seamus had his surgery yesterday and let me tell you, does he ever look handsome. But why tell you when I can show you? First, though, a picture of him in his glory days of ultimate cuteness:

Totally adorable, right?

And now:

Wait for it........

Wait for it........



Anyway, the good news is that we're both fine and dandy now even though I wrecked the car in the process and I'm jealous that Seamus got drugged and I didn't. Okay, I didn't totally wreck the car. The other car wasn't even moving, so how much damage could I do, right?  Here's what happened. Every time you park your car in Brasilia, there's usually a parking lot guy, and you make a "contract" with him that he will watch your car and help you get out of the impossibly tiny parking places in exchange for a few reais upon your return. Protection money, as it were. I saw the Godfather, I know how it is. What is a Brazilian contract? He gives you a thumbs up and you give him a thumbs up back, and the deal is made. So, I'm late for my dermatology appointment already because I can't find a freaking parking place that will accommodate our beast of a vehicle. Forty-five minutes of driving around downtown, and I'm near tears and cursing.  Finally, a parking lot guy waves me into his lot. I see that there is a shiny black car double-parked at the end of a row of vehicles. I shake my head no at the parking lot guy, my car is too big.  He is confident! He can make this happen! He has children to feed just like everybody else, so get your big-ass car on in here, lady! I slowly start inching my way past the double-parked car. 


One of my biggest fears while living here has come to pass. I've gotten into an accident with no portuguese skills and no one around who speaks English. I get out (the parking lot guy disappeared the instant the scratch happened), and the shiny black car guy gets out of his car. He is pissed, and tells me so, yelling in portuguese and making wild hand gestures. I do the only thing that comes naturally to me. Burst into tears. This technique has served me well in the past. Brazilians HATE to see women cry. I think because their women would rather slap them across the face than cry. Anyway, the guy immediately stops yelling, has me write down my husband's number (because Gah knows only a man can fix this situation), and waves me back into my offending crazy-lady vehicle.

I finally made it to the doctor and got my stitches out.  The doc sat at his desk, looked up at the ceiling, scratched his beard, thought for a few more minutes, and said to me, "A thousand reais." In cash, to be paid directly to his pocket. And then he handed me the bill, which was in the font of lemonade stands everywhere:

I really hate comic sans, and I will never return to a doctor that uses this ridiculous font. To illustrate how I feel about comic sans, and in keeping with the canine theme of this post:


After the dermatologist, I had to rush to meet the kids at the embassy health unit after school so we could all go get our rabies shots. I know, what are we, dogs? The nurse highly recommended that we get them, since one of our family members (who for the purpose of this post will go by the Native American name of Raisedbywolves) continually tries to play with monkeys and stray animals. Let's just say my long-suffering-but-well-travelled husband was not impressed with the giant scratch along the car when we got to the embassy. He didn't even care about the font the doctor used on his bill! I mean, seriously. Comic sans. On a bill.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Perfect Day in Brazil

Yesterday we woke the kids up early and hauled them off to Itiquira Falls, the highest accessible waterfall in Brazil.  It was about 90 minutes outside of Brasilia, if you didn't stop to get lost, like we did. We made a wrong turn in a little town near the falls, but had a great time asking the locals how to get to the falls in our lame portuguese. We just kept following their pointed fingers until we eventually made it back onto the right road. They were having a market day or festival of some sort, and it was all I could do to keep Mitch from buying a few chickens:
Our one regret of the day was not having enough time to explore the market, as we had to get back to Brasilia to attend a bbq and Jack still had a lot of weekend homework. Eventually we made it to the falls:

 The boys wanted to swim in the pool at the top, so we climbed all the way up, getting completely drenched from the spray, and found a trio of Brazilian, um, couples.  Having some private time in the water. Henry saw a boob.

So, we traipsed back down to the next level. Only Jack was brave enough for this icy cold, churning pool. See his little head in there?

The next level down proved to be the best for families.  The kids had a blast swimming and trying to keep pace with the current.

Jack challenged Henry to jump off the rocks:

And with a little boost from these lovely Brazilians, he made it up to the platform.


The girls wanted to try, of course, but the Brazilians wouldn't hear of it. Because they're girls. Despite the fact that Olivia is twice as strong a swimmer as Henry.  They still had fun jumping off the lower rocks and getting swept into the calm pool, though.

See that cliff? This crazy guy spent the day swan diving off it. He was there with his grandkids. Loco!

We stopped to eat at a local restaurant recommended by some of the embassy families and had just as lovely a time there as we had at the waterfall. There were beautiful gardens to hang out in, a guy singing and playing guitar (and he was good!), and a playground for kiddos to play on in view of the dining patio so parents could enjoy a leisurely meal. That is one of the things that makes me adore Brazil. They love children and will go out of their way to make them happy.

The gardens at the restaurant boasted two of these hammock gazebos, so if you got tired after your leisurely lunch, you could take a little sesta.

 This is Kevin and Miguel. They hung out with our kids while Mitch and I were finishing our lunch.  They knew a few words in English, but they were patient and slow and were able to have whole conversations with our kids in portuguese. They were so adorable and charming and funny, I wanted to take them home. Especially when Kevin pantomimed the word for "twins" in portuguese, which consisted of a lady pulling two babies out of her, um, ladyparts.

A vine-covered dome to hide in.

Most restaurants in Brazil have a little 'cafezinho' station where you can get a tiny cup of coffee after your meal.  This wonderful place also had a Cacha├ža station, which is the fermented sugarcane liquor used in making caipirinhas (the national cocktail of Brazil). 

It also had a cafezinho station and a station for the kids which was some kind of hot, liquid dulce de leche. It was well-received.

Just look at this adorable blurry enamel cup!

As we were going out to the car from our two-hour lunch (which, by the way, is a typical Brazilian 'lunch hour'), we discovered that the restaurant was giving kids free pony rides. I KNOW!!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Madam Secretary

Mitch's boss stopped by the office today, and she didn't disappoint. She spent time with the kids, or as she said, the "young diplomats, representing the United States in foreign countries", and was generally as fab as could be. I heart you, Hillary Clinton!

 Photo-op with the embassy kids, who were happily playing hooky from school.
That's Henry snapping a photo. She's totally looking at him!

My girls with a role model who's not wearing panties on fire as an outfit:

Um,  maybe someday if you can stop making poop jokes long enough, Henry:

Aw. I'm wearing heels and he's still taller.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Saturday I woke up pretty grumpy. I'm generally happy with this unconventional lifestyle, but the holidays are tough. No cousins, no laughing with my sisters until my sides ache for days, no grandparents, no good quality dark chocolate.  We took the three youngest to the DCM's (Deputy Chief of Mission to you non-Foreign Service-types) house for an Easter Bunny breakfast. The kids were also missing the traditional egg hunt with their cousins (especially finding eggs with g-strings and cigars in them, thanks to their oldest male cousins). They perked up pretty quickly, though. Our wonderful CLO (community liason office) set up a cupcake decorating station, face painting, and had a fabulous egg hunt.

Sombody really needs to comb that kid's hair.

That kid in the tree?  The one with the real Easter-y Tobasco Sauce t-shirt?  Way too cool to partake in the hunt.

Mitch was only able to stay for a bit and then was off to play in the last embassy softball game of the season (he came home with bruised ribs since I wasn't there to shout "DON'T BE A HERO!" every time the ball came towards him or he was at bat). I found a decent way to console myself as soon as I spotted an unattended baby sleeping in her carseat:

I felt a little better the next morning. The kids loved their Brazilian Easter baskets, especially since they contained items banned in the US, where apparently if you put toys INSIDE the chocolate eggs, kids are too dumb to not eat them.
 A Barbie inside the egg, yo.

We had some friends over for an Easter BBQ. I made some deviled chick eggs I saw on Pinterest. They look like they're drunk, but maybe that's how they get through the holidays. It can't be easy to be a chick on Easter.

I also tried to make Bunny Bread.
 It didn't turn out too bad, although it was a tad doughy in the middle of the belly. Everyone just ate the ears, head, and limbs.

Jack and his teenaged friend filled and hid tons of eggs with American easter candy I'd been hoarding in the freezer and the kids had another pretty good hunt.

I felt much better by the end of the day. I need to remember that staying home, alone and feeling sorry for myself is never helpful, and drinking wine with friends and eating tenderloin always is.