Tuesday, July 21, 2009

3 Months

Dear Gabriela,

Time really does fly when we're having fun! Three months have come and gone in what seems like the blink of an eye! And you have grown, developed, and changed every single day of it.

You are celebrating your 3-month birthday in the US. And boy, oh, boy are there a lot of people excited to have you around! Two weeks here and I'm afraid that you're going to be spoiled absolutely rotten. It's awesome to see everyone making such a fuss over you though - and you're just eating it all up.

You are quite the squirmy little thing and rarely ever hold still for very long. Even when you sleep (and even while swaddled!), you end up spinning around 180 degrees or more in your crib. But despite your desire to be on the move constantly, you're still a great traveler and tolerate being in your carseat and stroller for long stretches at a time.

You did so awesome on the three flights to the US over the weekend. You slept the entire overnight flight from Belo Horizonte to Miami and then on the next two flights you never once cried or wanted out of your carseat. The flight attendants and other passengers were so impressed! (I have a sneaky suspicion it won't be so easy as you get older and more mobile though.)

You continue to be a great sleeper. Your normal bedtime is 8:00 now and you sleep straight through the night until 7-8:00 when you get up and eat. Then you go right back down and usually sleep until 10:00 am. Your naps are getting a little more predictable now, but we haven't really got you a nap schedule yet. We'll approach that one after you finish out our marathon travel session in mid-August.

You had a great time meeting your Uncle Nathan last month and are enjoying your time with your Dad's side of the family in Iowa. The rest of the family is anxiously awaiting your arrival in Georgia next week!

You've really discovered your hands in the last couple weeks and keep yourself busy for extended periods looking at them and gnawing on them. And you've become quite the little slobber monster this month too - we have to keep a bib on you or else you have a wet chest all day. You're getting better and better at rolling from your stomach to your back, and you're up to 23 1/2 inches long and weigh 11 pounds 15 ounces now! You eat at 8:00, noon, 4:00, and 8:00, knocking down 6-8 ounces at each feeding.

You bring so much joy into our lives each and every day and we are incredibly thankful for such a happy, healthy baby girl!


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Peek-a-Boo Giggles

Enjoy some hearty laughs captured during a little game of Peek-a-Boo we played yesterday after a diaper change. I love that my little Gabster has to process it for a second before deciding if it's funny enough to laugh. She's getting a lot more interactive and so much fun these days!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Week 2 with Gringo Nate

Monday morning we sent Nathan back home, where I understand he immediately went through the Wendy's drive-thru and ordered a double cheeseburger. (Note to my baby brother: Thanks a lot for not helping my case against the all-Americans-ever-eat-is-fast-food-hamburgers preconception held by most of the Brasilians I encounter! GEEZ!)

We let him rest up and chill a bit more during his second week of vacation in Brasil but made sure to toss in some cultural experiences as well.

Tuesday night Eric and a friend took Nathan out to see a sertaneja band. I stayed home with Gabriela, but I hear they had a good time. And for some reason everyone kept coming up and asking Nathan if he was American. (Was it the cap, the plaid shirt, or the cowboy boots that tipped them off? Or maybe the blue eyes and 6'+ height. Or possibly they just heard him using his extensive [<--insert sarcastic tone here] Portuguese vocabulary.) And then someone asked Eric if he was English. hehehahaho

Thursday night we hosted a Fiesta Mexicana at our apartment. We have been saying for a long time that we were going to make Mexican food some night for our Brasilian friends to try (very few of them have ever had it). So with Nate here, it gave us a good excuse to throw a party. We also invited some of our American and Canadian friends who miss Mexican food as much as we do and ended up with over 30 people here.

Nathan got to see how much work is involved in putting together a simple taco bar in Brasil - 100 flour tortillas from scratch, refried beans that take 2 days to make, having to fry my own chips (I had Nathan bring down a bunch of corn tortillas for me), making my own sour cream, taco seasoning which involves pulling out 9 spice jars, homemade salsa, margaritas that start by juicing 50 limes and 15 oranges . . .

I sort of forgot to warn Nathan about Brasilian's adversion to eating/touching food with their hands though and I'm afraid it may be a while before some of our friends will return to our house now. Being unfamiliar with tacos and the sort, the Brasilians needed a little guidance on what to do with the tortillas and toppings. I looked over at the taco bar at one point and Nathan was trying to instruct one couple on what to do. "First off, you gotta smear some refried beans all o'er it. Whoa, not too much now. A'ight, then throw on a lil' bit a tha meat." Understandably, they were having some difficulties understanding his directions and so he said, "Here ya go, I'll just do it for ya." My brother then proceeded to grab their plate and start tossing on lettuce and shredded cheese . . . with his hands. (I had put out lots of serving pieces because I knew it would throw people off if they had to build a taco using their hands! But Nathan disregarded the flatware and just went the traditional route.) The poor couple looked slightly appalled.

Unfortunately, none of us remembered to take any pictures of the evening's festivities. :(

Friday morning Gabriela, Nate, and I drove down to Rio for the weekend. (Eric flew down after work on Friday night to join us.) We stayed in Leblon, took in a little beach time, walked down the beach in Ipanema and Copacabana, and visited Pão de Açucar (Sugarloaf Mountain), Corcovado (The Cristo), Jardim Botânico (Botanical Gardens), and the Copacabana Feira.

View of Pão de Açucar from Parque Nacional de Tijuca

Nathan in front of The Cristo

His kindergarden report card was always slacking in the "Follows directions well" category.

View from Pão de Açucar at sunset

View towards The Cristo from Pão de Açucar

Gabriela's "um, Mom, could you please save me" look. She gave me that one a lot whenever her Uncle Nate had her.

A special hairdo compliments of the Uncle . . . poor kid.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Gringo Nate: Recap of Week 1 in Brasil

We're trying to make sure my baby brother, Nathan, gets a thorough introduction to Brasil during his two weeks here. And he's been a very willing participant so far. Whether it's traveling by overnight bus, trying out new food, or throwing out some Portuguese words, he's happily gone along with all of it. And if you've never heard a South Georgia boy with a rather thick southern accent trying to speak Portuguese . . . well, you've really been missing out. The Brasilians have been most entertained by my brother.

We started off his trip last Sunday by taking him to a family cookout at the home of one of our friends and introduced Nate to the carnivorous ways of Brasil. We also got to watch the USA vs Brasil soccer game with them.

Then on Monday night we went to Baby Beef, a churrascaria (Brasilian Steakhouse), where Nathan nearly ate his weight in beef.

On Tuesday we took a trip out to Betim to Vale Verde, an ecological park and cachaça-making facility. He ate a big lunch of steak and fries, sampled the cachaça (both the bottled stuff and some coming straight from the distilling tanks), and met the local wildlife.

He started off feeling okay about having a rather large bird perched on his arm.

Then he got a little nervous as the critter started climbing up his arm.

Then he started his nervous laugh as the bird approached his head.

And then he started laughing uncontrollably which was his subtle way of saying "HELP!!!" as the bird started pecking at his head and trying to pull the button off the top of his cap.

Gabriela, for one, thought the whole thing was pretty funny.

On Wednesday, Gabriela and I along with my friend Megan, took Nathan on the obligatory tour of Ouro Preto. Walking the cobblestone hills and touring the churches and museum, he got to work off some of the food he'd been consuming since his arrival.

We met Eric at Mallongos, a restaurant near where he works, for lunch on Thursday and dined in the company of monkeys.

(Notice two of the monkeys above Nate's head)

He quickly learned what wild monkeys who frequent local dining establishments prefer to eat . . . dessert.

Thursday night, we hopped an overnight bus to Vila Velha in Espírito Santo. Last time Eric and I went, I swore I'd never take another bus on that mountainous road. But the flights were pretty pricey, so we found ourselves on a bus once again. This time though, we decided to upgrade to the leito bus as opposed to the semi-leito we've taken in the past . . . totally worth the extra R$40 (US$20)! The seats are wide and plush and fully recline and you have tons of leg room. (Geez, would someone please explain why my husband and I are such tightwads sometimes and didn't try this earlier?!? Please learn from our mistakes. Fork out the extra cash and get a decent night's rest!)

Anyhow, we arrived in Vila Velha at 6:00 am, checked into our pousada, and were on the beach by 8:00. Nathan quickly developed an appreciation for the service at the beach: refreshing coconut water, ice cold beer, and lots of meat on a stick brought right to you while you sit in the chair next to the umbrella that the helpful folks on the beach brought down and set up for you and all for a total bill of R$17 (US$8.50) per person.

He didn't actually want two coconuts (though it did make for a nice photo op), but when he asked for a "coca", as in Coca-Cola, he received another "coco". Sometimes his southern-accented Portuguese doesn't always work out.

He also developed an appreciation for Brasilian swimwear.
(Although he wouldn't wear the sunga I bought especially for him - his excuses included something about white thighs, scandalousness, and a fear of pictures on the world wide web.)

Besides lying around on the beach eating kabobs of filet mignon, Nathan also partook of some frescobol with Eric.

And some play time with his niece.

We took the train back to BH on Sunday. It was a long ride (14 hours), but we were able to sleep some, eat lunch in the restaurant car, and play some Scrabble and Phase 10 around the desk/workstation, and be entertained by Little Miss Gabriela, so we moved around a lot and the time passed rather quickly. And it was a really pretty trip through the mountains of Espírito Santo and Minas Gerais!