Sunday, February 21, 2010

10 Months

My Little Big-Stuff,

We're only two months away from your first birthday now - and you seem to think that you're going to be turning 13. This month has brought some challenges, but we've had a good time.

You're reaching the point where you know what you want and you work real hard to make it happen, but your little 10-month old body has limitations (such as not being able to walk) and that makes for some frustration on your part. And a little more whining than your parents enjoy.

This has been a month of pulling up, cruising furniture, and constantly reaching for fingers to hold onto so that you can walk wherever you want. Apparently army-crawling is no longer an acceptable mode of mobility! And while you are very wobbly and your balance still needs a lot of work, no one has bothered to tell you that. You're quite certain you can walk unassisted and regularly get to the end of the coffee table and casually turn to walk away as if there is no doubt in your mind that you can walk. So this month has also seen A LOT of falls and tumbles. You're getting more graceful and you very rarely cry when you fall, but, just the same, you spend a lot of time face-planting it onto the floor.

It has been a cold month and we've been in the house a lot more than either of us would like. I'm not sure if it is actually seasonal affective disorder or just a severe case of cabin fever, but you and I both are a little more ornery than usual these days. We're girls who need our sunshine and time outside . . . being buried under 14" of snow isn't really our thing. I'm not sure who wants spring to come faster: you, me, or Papai! Meanwhile, I'm supplementing with extra Vitamin D and hoping to be passing it along to you through my milk.

We've tried to have a little fun despite the sub-freezing temperatures though. We took a trip up to Nena and Papa's House, took you sledding/playing in the snow for the first time, enjoyed a Valentine's Day Day-Date with Papai in Iowa City to eat lunch at Olive Garden and go shopping, had a couple play dates with other stay-at-home mommies and their girls, and you made your first trip to Iowa State University to visit the Ag Engineering Department with Aunt Kelly and watch an ISU basketball game (and just so you know, they were already trying to recruit you into the engineering department and encouraging your father to start saving now . . . and just so you know, your father said you better be busting your hind-end and getting some scholarships . . . I thought it only fair that I record this information for you so that you can't claim ignorance later. We're giving you 18 years to earn some nice big scholarships. I think that's more than fair.)

We adjusted your schedule (is it really a "schedule" though, maybe we should call it a routine) slightly this month to reduce your nursing sessions from four to three and try to have your three meals at more "normal" times. Our days are ruled less by a clock though and more by a series of events, hence my tendency to prefer talking about routines rather than schedules. This month, a typical day for you might be (although each event can vary by as much as an hour or so in either direction):
7:00 wake up, nurse, go right back to bed
9:00 wake up and have breakfast
11:00 naptime
12:30 wake up, eat lunch
3:00 nurse
4:00 naptime
5:30 wake up and eat supper
8:00 nurse and go to bed

You continue to be our lean, mean, eating machine with meals being your favorite part of the day. You plow through more than 2 pounds of plain natural yogurt each week and beans, of any sort, continue to rank among your very favorite foods. On an average day, you might eat:

Breakfast: 6 oz plain yogurt with 2 tsp of toasted wheat germ, 1 banana, 1/4 cup of blueberries

Lunch: 1/2 cup black beans, 1/2 cup of peas and carrots, 1/2 cup of applesauce with 1/4 cup of crispy rice brown cereal (think Rice Krispies, but made with brown rice and no sugar)

Supper: 2 tbsp ground beef mixed with 1/2 cup of lentils, 1/2 cup collard greens, 1 peach

You drink water with each meal and throughout the day. We've avoided giving you juice, since you get plenty of whole fruits. Well, that and we really want your only drink options to be milk or water. Seems the easiest way to keep you content with that is to make it the only thing you know . . . as long as we can, anyway. :)

Much to our delight, you started babbling about halfway through the month. You hadn't really made a single consonant sound before, so we were a little anxious for you to start saying something. Well, one day you woke up and decided you could make all sorts of sounds. And so you did. Nonstop. All. day. long. Your Papai came home and was all like, "Um, when did she start "talking"?" And I told him, "Oh, when she woke up this morning." You now jabber all the time (except for when you have an audience who wants to hear you talk) saying, "bababa, gabaga, dadada, kkkkkk, mamama, papapa, eheheh" and other sounds. You haven't assigned your sounds to anything particular, and you don't repeat anything we say. You're just content to hear yourself babble.

So you don't call anything or anyone by name and you don't use any sign language yet. But, that certainly doesn't mean you don't understand what we sign and say. You know who Mamae and Papai are and look right at us if one of us asks where the other one is. You understand comer (to eat), leite (milk), nao pode (no-no), pare (stop), livro (book), vai ao vaso (go to the potty), fica aqui (stay here), the names of some of your favorite toys (Madeline, seu macaco (your monkey), seu cachorro (your puppy)), along with beijo (kiss), maozinhas (hands), boca (mouth), and more. It's really amazing to watch you learn and see how much you understand now!
Of course, now that you're understanding more, we expect a little more out of you: like obedience when we tell to you stop or that you cannot chew on the electrical cord. You make it pretty obvious that you know when you're doing something you're not supposed to (such as when you stop doing it while we're looking, but go right back to it the moment you think we're not looking.) Whoever coined the phrase "innocent little children" obviously didn't have a child of his own! You're cute and adorable and lovable and fun. But innocent? Yeah, not so much. So along with all the praise and positive reinforcement you've been receiving since birth, we've added a little corrective action now as needed. Two (admittedly half-hearted) swats on one occasion to your diapered little hiney two weeks ago and you no longer fight and whine and try to crawl off when I get you dressed. I can only hope that future needs for discipline are as successful and long-lasting! (Somehow I doubt it, but I can hope, right?)

You make me laugh and smile everyday and then moments later make me want to lock myself in a sound proof closet. I suppose that comes with parenthood. But luckily we have a lot more the the prior than the latter! You're still my outgoing, stranger-loving, smiley, happy girl and you bring so much joy into my life!

I love you whole bunches, Querida,

Thursday, February 18, 2010

"Merry Christmas, Happy Birthday, and Happy Valentine's Day . . . and maybe Happy Anniversary too, I haven't decided if you'll get something else yet or not by August."

Last week, these were the sweet {insert eyes rolling} words spoken to me by my dear husband when my new little toy arrived via my friendly (and now well-known) UPS man. (Yes, it was a sad Christmas and Birthday when I received nada from my hubby. Then he told me I could pick out the Digital SLR of my choice. And then I wasn't so sad anymore!!!)

I'd like you to meet our newest family member:

And so far, this thing has cost us more than Gabriela . . . so yes, it's part of the family now and will be attending family vacations, weekend trips, and more.

Hello Mr. Nikon D5000. You are a beauty! And I have great hopes for the photographs you and I will capture.

But first I have to figure out how to use you. This thing has more functions, settings, and options than a NASA spaceship.

Hopefully the 236 pages of the user's manual along with 298 pages of a camera-specific guide to SLR photography, and I'll at least be able to figure out how to take the lens cap off and take a picture.

So if you'll excuse me, I have, oh, about 534 pages to read. Better photos coming your way soon. (Hopefully before Eric opens the next credit card bill . . . He needs some reassurance about his "investment".)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

In Honor of Carnaval

Today is Carnaval! So to my Brasilian friends: Boas Festas e Feliz Carnaval! Bebe uma Skol pra mim. :)

In honor of this day, I would like to pick a little bone with Procter & Gamble. Namely, false advertisement.

Eric and I were picking up a few things at Wal-Mart on Sunday when we came across this:

Feeling a little sad that we wouldn't get to celebrate Carnaval in 2010, we couldn't have been more excited about our find. This time last year we were having a grand time in the fine city of Rio de Janeiro: watching parades at the Sambodromo, making our way across the packed beaches, and partying it up until after sunrise (well, as much as an 8-month pregnant woman can "party"). In 2010, we are freezing our hineys off under 10" of snow in Iowa.

But Procter & Gamble generously offers to let us spray a little Febreze air freshener, close our eyes, and be immediately taken back to the awesome celebration that is Carnaval.

We went on to read the can:

"Inspired by the lush green groves of acai berry palms that billow in the wind deep within the Amazon"

Wait a minute. Acai palms? The Amazon? What the heck do those have to do with Carnaval?!? I need to speak with the marketing department over at P&G. Seriously.

First off, let's talk culture and geography. Brasil is a real big country. The whole thing isn't a jungle. And the Amazon doesn't exactly attract Carnaval revelers. You see, acai palms do grow in the Amazon (kudos for getting that part right), but if you talk to anyone who has ever attended a Carnaval celebration in Brasil, I highly doubt visions of lush green groves comes to mind. Ever.

Now, I had a great time at both of the Brasilian Carnaval celebrations I attended. But let's talk about the smells of Carnaval in Brasil.
#1: Urine.
#2: Beer.
#3: Sweat.
I don't think you actually want your air freshener associated with these tantalizing scents.

Here's the deal Procter & Gamble, I can appreciate your efforts to market a fine product. And I also realize that the average person probably doesn't recognize your mistakes here. But really, a little research can go a real long way to avoid making you look like complete idiots.

Your name and description make about as much sense as calling a product "South Beach Breeze - Inspired by the towering Sequoias that grow tall above Yosemite National Park".

I can hear the Brasilians laughing at us from here.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Quadrigêmeos Update

I'm long overdue to post an update on Manoel, Eliana, and their precious quadruplets. But better late than never, right?

Eric called and spoke with Manoel on December 20. We were saddened to learn that Eliana, Manoel, and the three boys were actually at the hospital. The boys had all came down with pneumonia. Some cousins were staying at the house with the baby girl and 5 older children, but Mom, Dad, and the three boys had been at a hospital a couple hours away for several days. The boys all started out in intensive care, but, when we spoke to them, they were all improving and in a regular room. They hoped to be home before Christmas.

We informed Manoel that we would be leaving Brasil on the following day, but we were going to deposit the money that had been donated to them into their account: R$850 (US$475)! He was very appreciative of the money and asked that we please pass along a big thank you to everyone who gave. He said that his family would pray that God may bestow His blessings upon each of you.

Since returning to the US, I have thought often of this family and wondered how they were doing. I debated calling them on more than one occasion. Then two weeks ago, I received an email from Manoel's sister - with pictures!

I asked permission to share them here and she told me to go ahead. What big, healthy babies! How they've grown in just two months!

To remind you, here they are in mid-November:

And now (these pictures were taken mid-January):

Ana Raquel



And my little buddy, Ezequiel! Look at that grin!

(On a personal note, oh-my-gosh these pictures make me want babies. Lots and lots more babies. Although one at a time would be fine. hehehe)

Manoel and Eliana have such a sweet family, and they really touched my heart. A big thank you to everyone who contributed. The generosity you showed was so awesome and getting notifications from Paypal each time a deposit was made really warmed my heart. Your donations equaled more than two months salary for them, and I know it will be a big help. They really have their work cut out for them as the quadruplets grow, and I'm certain they would appreciate a continued interest in your thoughts and prayers.

The world isn't nearly as ugly and bad as it sometimes seems. There are lots of good people out there (all over the globe) . . . I think sometimes we need reminded of that.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Our Snowy Weekend

"I really want to just pick her up and drop her in a snow bank. I think it'd be hilarious!"

And this is the kind of comment that Eric is going to have to be sure to exclude from his "Father of the Year" application.

I didn't allow him to drop the kid in any snow banks (you're welcome, grandparents), but we did take Little Gabs out to play in the snow on Saturday. She still hasn't grown accustomed to getting all bundled up, and she was less than impressed as we zipped her up in snow bibs and a ski jacket. But we'd like to think she had a good time.

She didn't smile as much as she usually does though. She may share her mother's sentiments about cold weather.

Gabs giving her Papai the ol' stink eye after he picked her up and ever so gently tossed her into a flat spot of snow in the yard (which is decidedly different than dropping her in a snow bank.)

Making her very first snow angel! (Or was she fighting to try and get up/roll over? Either way, the result was one fine snow angel!)

I think someone must have mentioned hot chocolate (hence, the big smiles).

Sunday evening we headed over to a friend's house to watch the Superbowl. There were 3 other little girls (ages 2 months, 2 years, and 3 years) along with three other couples. We had a really good time, and Gabriela completely wore herself out trying to keep up with the big girls. (She slept until 10:30 this morning and then laid down for a nap at 12:30 - she is only now waking up at 4:00!!!)

Gabriela was rather indifferent as to who won the Superbowl. So she decided to just support her favorite college team instead: the Georgia Bulldogs!

It's been snowing all day and we're supposed to get 5-9" of snow between now and tomorrow night. While Gabs and I try to fight cabin fever, I'll leave you with a video clip of her first sledding experience down our driveway on Saturday!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


So she can't pick her belly off the ground to crawl properly.

But she is pulling up on everything.

And now, climbing.

(At least she can get herself back down as gracefully as she climbs up!)

I suppose this is a safer activity than chewing on electrical cords.

Life remains interesting. She keeps us on our toes!!!

Monday, February 1, 2010

How to Open Wine

Sometimes life calls for creative means of problem solving. In the last few weeks of living in our house without our shipments from Brasil, without having everything we left in the US sorted through and organized yet, and without having finished my "replacement" shopping from our big moving sale in Brasil, we've found that more often than not we don't have what we need at the moment we need it (or we know we have it but can't, for the life of us, find it at the moment we need it).

A couple weeks ago was the perfect example. After a day full of cleaning and sorting, I wanted a glass of wine. Not a complicated request. My dear hubby had even picked up a couple bottles the previous night while at the grocery store. As he went to open it and pour us both a nice glass of the red stuff, it occurred to us that we had no idea where our corkscrew was located.

After poking around at the cork with his pocket knife for a couple minutes, Eric went scrounging around the garage and came back with a solution.

Observe, How to Open a Bottle of Wine:

1. Drill a pilot hole with your Craftsman 19.2 volt cordless drill. (A note from the engineer: The Dewalt, obviously, would have been overkill here. No need to pull out the big boys, it's just a puny little cork.)

2. Screw in a coarse-threaded garage hook. (One made for hanging bikes is especially handy as it gives you a nice big handle to work with).

3. Pull out the cork.
(Looking at your wife like you're the most brilliant man alive is totally optional. But a nice touch. Really wish I had captured that moment to share too.)

Now, if you happen to not be married to a man with a well stocked garage and a tendency towards improvisation . . . I guess you could just go out and buy a corkscrew. But that wouldn't be much fun now, would it?

P.S. You will be happy to know that since these photos were taken, I have acquired a snazzy new cork puller that also cuts the foil for you. It's pretty darn fancy. Eric is a little upset he doesn't get to use his cordless drill in my kitchen anymore though.