Sunday, May 31, 2009


SuperAgro (sort of comparable to a county fair back home, minus the rides and carney-food) is here once again in Belo Horizonte, and so we got to spend the day amongst farm animals and all the hay and manure that entails. We went last year and really enjoyed the familiar environment and were excited to take Gabriela this year to her first livestock show.

I grew up showing sheep and beef heifers. I never had much interest in dairy cattle.

But this year I swear I felt some sort of connection with the cows . . .

I felt right at home amongst my bovine sisters. And I was really sympathizing with this poor gal below on the left.

Please tell me someone is going to milk that poor thing soon . . . she had this funny-looking wide-legged waddle going on she was so engorged!

And then there was this gal. They had her hooked up to the pump, milking her. And there was a gaggle of folks gathering around with empty 2-liter coke bottles anxiously waiting. Talk about pressure to produce! Several of the farms were giving away the milk to anyone who wanted it, so there was an abundance of people hanging out anytime they were actively milking.

It made me nervous. This self-professed milk cow couldn't compete with those girls. And I told Gabriela to advert her eyes and not get any ideas and also that there'd be no feeding her until we got back home. I couldn't handle that kind of pressure. But that's enough about that. ;)

Moving on:

Pretty much all of the beef cattle have some Brahman heritage. There were lots of humps to be found, including this really impressive one which was gigantic (the bull itself was pretty darn big too; he was taller than Eric, which is why my husband and child were keeping themselves a safe distance for the photo.)

Have I ever mentioned that hump is a popular cut of meat here? It's called cupim. It is usually offered at all the churrascarias (Brasilian Steakhouses). And during our first month or so here, I couldn't, for the life of me, remember that cupim = hump. So every time we would go out to a churrascaria (which was a lot in those early days when we were living in the hotel), a waiter would come around offering cupim and every time I would accept it. It was only after they would start carving a piece off that I would realize what it was. Today, I never eat hump. (In case you were wondering, it's not that good.)

We were able to catch a bit of the dairy cattle competition. It was mostly just adults showing, but this one little guy (who must have only been around 7 years old) was too cute and did a really great job - even if he did have to try to drag her along a couple of times!

The Gabster came out of her stroller a few times to get a better look at everything and pose for some pictures.

I was sort of smitten with this itty bitty calf and it's itty bitty hump.

And in all my time around the bovine species, I have never seen one lay with it's front legs straight out like this. I've also never seen a cow smile (look closely, she's showing off a toothy grin!) Eric wanted to stick around and see how she would stand up from this position!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Um menino?

That translates to "A boy?" I get asked that question quite regularly - almost daily in fact. And all because Gabriela doesn't have pierced ears. One might think people would notice the pink and purple dress long before looking at her ears, but not here. They just go straight in for the ears looking for studs.

And while pierced ears really aren't a big deal to me, we're choosing not to get it done until she asks for it. Mostly just because I wouldn't want someone to pierce anything of mine without my prior approval. So we're waiting. I don't care if she's only two years old when she requests it, because, like I said, it's not a big deal. But, we'll wait until she asks. (We also won't be giving her a belly button ring, piercing her nose, or putting a stud through her eyebrow in the first year of her life either - in case anyone was wondering. hehehe)

Meanwhile, maybe I'll stick a post-it note on each side of her head which reads, "Oi! Sou uma menina" (Hi! I'm a girl) just to clear up any doubt that the pink and purple dress leaves behind for folks.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Relaxing at the Pool

Beginning the end of next week, we are going to be embarking on a 2 1/2 month stretch of traveling and/or hosting visitors. So we thought we would take it easy this last weekend. We spent part of each day Saturday and Sunday over at the clube just hanging out in/around the pool. Gabriela spent her time at the clube napping in her stroller parked beside us in the shade. (So UV-Ray Police don't worry: she was only in the sun for the 2 minutes it took to take pictures!)
Don't let it freak you out that Gabriela's outfit consists of more fabric than Eric's swimsuit. hehe

My bathing beauties

It is still strange to hold her near my abdomen and think that she was hanging out in there just 5 weeks ago!

After a strenuous day of swimming and laying in the sun for Eric, and napping for Gabriela, those two needed some rest. They had been reading when I left the room. Five minutes later I came back to this!

Maybe you can tell by the fat rolls developing on her arm that someone has been gaining some weight.

We had a doctor's appointment for Gabriela yesterday afternoon. At 5 weeks old, she is up to 9.25 pounds and 21.25 inches. (Up from 7 lbs/19.3 in at birth!) That puts her exactly at the 50th percentile for both height and weight now. She was right around the 25th percentile when she was born, so she is growing well. She got a good report from the doctor - she's doing just perfect!

Oh, and the doctor's prediction is that she will be blonde-haired and brown-eyed. Her hair is definitely lightening up a lot (and growing - her bangs will be in her eyes soon when they're brushed straight down!), but her eyes are still quite blue . . . only time will tell!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Play Gym Time

We try to get in a little floor play time everyday. Some of that time is spent laying on/playing with the Baby Einstein Play Gym. Here's a little peak into our day:

And I do realize that everyone else in the world isn't as captivated as ol' mom by Little Miss Gabriela. But there are some grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. out there who enjoy a little live action . . . so this is for y'all.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Letter to My 1 Month Old

My Dear Princesinha,

Wow, one month old! I’m pretty sure there has never been a better month in my life. The time passed so quickly, but yet it seems like we have been a family of three for a long time. You bring your papai and me so much laughter and joy every single day, and I can hardly remember now what I did to fill my days before you came along (although I am quite certain it included a lot less poo and spit-up.)

We count ourselves as supremely blessed that you are such a good baby. We weren’t so sure those first three nights of your life when you refused to sleep anywhere except on our chests or in our arms. But on the fourth night, we decided to swaddle you up tight, we turned your noise machine on to the sound of the ocean, and from 10:00 pm until 9:00 am you only woke up twice to eat and then went right back to sleep in your bassinet. And now, at four weeks old, you are sleeping in your crib in your own room from around 9:00 pm until 9:00 am and only getting up once between 4:00 and 6:00 for breakfast. Sleep really does make everything better, and you have no idea how grateful your mamãe is that you let me rest at night! (And I suppose your daddy is pretty appreciative too of being able to get some sleep before he fights the BH traffic and works a long day at the office!)

You still prefer to be held during your daytime naps though. And while I know you need to learn to nap on your own, as I hold you close to me and watch you sleep I want to just keep you there in my arms and try to memorize every little thing about you. You are changing and growing so fast, and I want to cherish these moments that we have. I try to lock into my memory the way the top of your head smells and the cute faces you make while you sleep. I want to always remember the feel of your soft skin snuggled against my cheek as you lie on my shoulder and the way your breath smells like sweet milk. I can’t play with your little dimpled-knuckle hands or mess with your head full of hair if I put you down. So while I say that I have been working this week on making you sleep in your crib for naps, my attempts may be rather half-hearted and, in all fairness, maybe it is your mommy that enjoys the cuddles as much as it is you.

Just as we had hoped, you are quite content being a baby on the go. While you tend to yell while we put you in your car seat/infant carrier (making those around us, who may or may not actually use a car seat for their infants, look at us as if we are torturing you), you are happy once we pick it up and you’re moving. And except for the necessary breaks when you’re hungry or sitting in a dirty diaper, I think you would be pleased to spend the entire day going for walks in your stroller. In the beginning you would fall asleep almost instantly, but now you stay more alert and have a blast taking in the scenery and flirting with everyone we pass by. And being the cuddler that you are, the BabyBjörn is right up your alley. And I guess it’s all a good thing, since we have a lot of traveling planned for the next three months!

A few of the fun tricks you have worked on this month:

- Taking a Bottle from Daddy (Every night he gives you a bath (you were unsure about the whole bath thing at first, but now you’ve decided you really enjoy them), gets you dressed for bed, and then gives you a bottle before swaddling you up tight and putting you in your crib to fall asleep. He enjoys the one-on-one time with you, and Mommy appreciates the opportunity get something accomplished in the evenings.)

- Smiling (And not only while sleeping or when you’re filling up your diaper! This week you’ve started occasionally grinning at people when they speak to you, but only if they speak Portuguese. Even your mamãe has to speak to you in Portuguese to get a grin!)

- Rolling Over (I keep telling myself it’s a fluke, but you have rolled over four times this week while I was watching you: three times from your belly to your back during tummy time and once from your back to your stomach. It’s really too early for you to be able to do that, but, regardless, we’ve become a little more careful as to where we lay you down now!)

- Reading Books (Last week I started reading to you when you’re most wakeful. You alternate between looking intently at the pages as I turn them and twisting your head around to stare up at me. Papai has tried reading with you some too, but you are usually either sleeping or prefer to be moving in the evenings and aren’t usually in a sit and read sort of mood for very long.)

You are such a pleasure to be around and you’ve made the first month of parenthood so easy for us. Based on the horror stories, we half expected to be sleep-deprived zombies completely exhausted and at our wits’ end dealing with a baby who won’t stop crying. Instead we have a delightful daughter who sleeps through the night, rarely cries more than 30 seconds, and only occasionally shoots poop at her father. You’ve set the bar high for your future siblings!

I love you so much,
Mommy, also affectionately known as The Milk Cow

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Gettin' Smiley

The last two days Gabriela has figured out she can really impress people if she smiles at them. And she's been cheesin' it up! For her Mamãe, for the faxineira, for random ladies we meet on our walks, and even for her Dear Ol' Dad last night.

But she also knows she's Brasilian . . . she'll only give you a smile if you speak Portuguese to her. English gets you no response right now. Seriously.

Maybe after we get her registered at the US Consulate in Rio next month she'll decide she's bilingual! :)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Officially Brasilian!

Gabriela is officially Brasilian now (but not American yet).

She and I spent our first day together with the car last week on Wednesday. Eric and I share one car and usually he drives it to work. But last week I needed to pick up Gabriela's passport and also take care of getting her RG (Brasilian ID card), so Eric got a ride with a coworker and left us with the car for the day.

So now that we've got this:

She has official proof of her Brasilian citizenship!

And proof that she's illiterate, poor thing.

I really wish there was some other wording for "too young to sign her name in her passport" besides "illiterate minor" . . . I feel like I've failed as a mother when my child gets referred to as illiterate! I promise, I read to her people!!!

Meanwhile, I have to comment on the whole passport experience. It was incredible! So, so, so easy. And efficient. I've never done anything involving a government agency (in Brasil or the US) that was so simple.

I went online to the Polícia Federal website and filled out the form with all her information. Then I printed out a payment voucher. Then I made an appointment through their website since you are required to appear in person to apply for your passport here.

We took the payment voucher to the bank and paid the R$156 fee. We went to the Polícia Federal at 7:15 am (our appointment was scheduled for 7:30). In Belo Horizonte the passport division is in a brand new building. At 7:25 we were called back to meet with the passport agent. She looked Gabriela up in her system on a brand new (not slow and dinosaur-like) computer and all of the information I had entered online popped up on her screen. She scanned the passport picture we brought in along with Gabriela's birth certificate for her files, verified Eric's and my identity, and told us the passport would be ready to pick up in one week. And I should also add that the agent was capable of typing, unlike the other people we've encountered who work in data entry for the government here, but yet they type very slowly and only with their two index fingers (seriously, we've witnessed it on four occasions so far). We walked out the door at 7:40 - 10 minutes after our appointment time!

And two days later I received an email alerting me that the passport was ready to be picked up. Holy cow - EARLY! So Gabriela and I went last Wednesday to get her passport. I arrived and was sent directly to a window since I had a baby with me (and Brasilian law requires that senior citizens, handicapped people, pregnant women, and women with small children get priority in lines everywhere - it's fabulous!) Five minutes later, I left with her passport.

I am incredibly impressed with the entire system and how smoothly/quickly it all went!

We haven't been able to catch her smile when we've had the camera out. She was blinking here, but at least you get to see her great big grin!

The process to get her RG wasn't terrible, but it certainly wasn't quite as painless as the passport. Mostly because my three-week old child had to be fingerprinted. The old fashioned way with ink. Ever try to do that with a newborn? It took three of us to unfurl her fingers and get the prints made.

As her mother (and Eric would add, "being from Georgia"), I had always kind of hoped that she wouldn't get fingerprinted until she applied for her concealed weapon permit. But dang if the kid didn't even make it to a month old before having her first mugshot taken and getting fingerprinted! I'm just hoping those prints come back clean and she hasn't been involved in some crime I don't know about. ;)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Photos from the Quiet Days

It used to be a lot quieter around here.

And I used to have a great big belly.

I had almost forgotten where this squeaky little thing I'm holding in my arms came from.

But yesterday our awesome photographer, Ricardo Lobato, dropped off the CD with all our maternity shots.

And it all came back to me.

We took these April 4. I was 39 weeks along and Miss Gabriela was quite the squirmy little thing that day.

She's still pretty squirmy. But she kicks me in the ribs a lot less now.

So even if it is a lot less quiet around these parts, I think I'll keep her out here.

Because I wasn't a big fan of being kicked in the ribs.

And I'm kind of liking my belly being a bit less round and being able to breath and being able to drink a glass of wine.

And she is pretty darn cute and cuddly (even if she is spitting up on me as we speak.)

But it's a fun walk down memory lane . . .

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My Mother's Day Letter

This letter was waiting for me when I woke up Sunday morning. Eric denied all knowledge of it and the gorgeous orchids. (Although he later admitted that he did type it for Gabriela - as she kept accidentally hitting herself in the head every time she tried to press the space bar - the fine motor skills need some improving still . . . ) But either way, I smile now when she cries. And I think I'm going to cash in on my mommy alone time this Saturday morning.

I've got a pretty great daughter - and her Daddy ain't too bad either! :)

May 10, 2009
Dear mommy,

Everybody has been telling me that today is supposed to be your special day. I am not sure what they are talking about, because I think that you are special every day? Why is today any different? They told me that I should do something special for my mommy, and show her how much I love her, but I told them that I do that everyday. Everyday when I cry when you lay me down I am just trying to tell you that I love you so, so much, and I don’t want you to let me go. Or every time that I cry when you are changing my diaper, I am just trying to tell you thank you, you are the best mommy in the whole world! I understand that these days can be difficult for you, as I am extra needy, but I just wanted to make sure that you realize I think that we are creating a special bond that nobody else can understand. However, with that said, that daddy guy is pretty special as well, and in all honesty, I have been thinking about this and maybe it is not quite fair to him that we never get any alone time together? So how about for this supposedly special day of yours, that I don’t understand, how about I get to make the wish? I wish, that sometime in the near future, you will just take some of this money from daddy that I found, and you just go do whatever you want to do for a little while so you can leave daddy and I alone for just a bit. But since this is your special day, this wish is actually probably good for you too. I really just want to have some alone time with my special daddy, but you are winning out here, because you get to go spend some of daddy’s money however you want!! I mean, this is a lot of money. I think this would take me the rest of my life to make this money, but don’t worry, him and I both think that you are very worth it! So just think about it, do whatever you want to do! Get your nails done, go to the spa and get a facial, get a massage, your options are endless with this kind of money! But remember mommy, you can’t do it today. Since today is your special day, it would be weird for me to be stuck with only daddy. So today, let’s be together as a family, and have a lot of fun! Please remember that I love you very, very much mommy, and I hope that everyday is as special for you as it is for me!

Beijos and slobbers from your little princesinha,

She's been hard at work on that second chin and chubbyin' up those cheeks! And her tongue is only rarely kept in her mouth; I think there may be some reptile somewhere in the gene pool!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Smells like the US

I have never looked forward to weekends as much as I do now. There is just something about Eric walking through the door on Friday evening and knowing that we have the next two days to spend as a family of three that makes my heart swell.

Saturday we went to Rancho do Boi, a place just outside of town, for Gabriela's first restaurant experience (not counting the cafe she and I had lunch at one day). We hadn't been in quite a while, but it is one of our favorite weekend lunch spots because of its gorgeous setting in the mountains.

After lunch we headed to the brand new Leroy Merlin that they opened up in Belo Horizonte. Leroy Merlin is sort of comparable to a Lowe's or Home Depot, but this new one has a lot of home decorating items too. It is almost a cross between a Lowe's and a Bed, Bath, and Beyond. It's a huge store, nicely organized, neat, clean . . . we were impressed. But that could also have been because we were served champagne when we walked in. When was the last time you enjoyed a glass of bubbly at Lowe's?!? (Granted, I don't think it is standard procedure there - more of a grand opening celebration, but still . . .)

What might have been my favorite part of Saturday occurred as we were walking into the new store though. As we were coming up the escalator into the store from the parking garage, there were two guys right behind us. One loudly announced to the other that it "smells like the United States in here." Now, the chances of saying something like in BH that while standing behind a couple Americans is slim to none. (We considered turning around and telling him it was just us. hehe) And furthermore, I had no idea that a country could have a "smell"! The store sort of had a new construction smell about it; is that is the smell that characterizes the US? I have no idea, but I have giggled about it at least two dozen times since then. And then Eric and I started trying to decide what Brasil smells like. Things just went downhill from there, but left us both laughing pretty hard.

Sunday I was treated pretty special by my two favorite people. After waking up to orchids and a really sweet note for Mother's Day, we had a visit from a couple friends to meet Gabriela before we loaded up the car and drove out to Alphaville to Minas Nautica Clube for the day. We spent the entire afternoon lounging around the pool and walking around the lake. The place was pretty much empty so it was really quiet and completely relaxing.

We had a couple other firsts with Miss Gabriela this weekend too. Now that breastfeeding is well established, we decided to introduce her to a bottle so her Daddy can share in feeding her too. She took to it right away, gulping down nearly 4 ounces.

Then last night we decided it was time for her to start sleeping in her own room instead of in the bassinet in our room. She's become known as Squeaky around here since she makes tons of little squeaking noises while she sleeps. It's actually pretty cute - unless you're trying to get some sleep yourself! So she spent last night in her crib and slept awesome. We put her down at 10:00 last night and she didn't wake up until 6:00. She had some breakfast, and then she slept three more hours in her crib until 9:00. We are so blessed to have a baby who sleeps at night!!! And now that we don't spend the night listening to her squeaks, we're sleeping well too!

Sunset over the lake in Alphaville on Sunday.