Monday, October 3, 2011
Monday, September 19, 2011
So the girls and I drove up to Cedar Rapids on Thursday morning, hopped a plane to Dallas, killed 5 hours in the airport, boarded an overnight flight to Rio de Janeiro, made our way through customs and immigration, checked into another airline, and finally made it into Belo Horizonte's airport at 11:00 am on Friday morning. My Brasil BFF, Megan, met me at the airport and helped me lug the two girls, their two carseats, and all 146 pounds of luggage on board the airport shuttle bus to downtown BH and then transfer it all to a taxi and into her apartment. The president of Brasil happened to be making an appearance here at the moment we arrived and traffic was a nightmare. Our 10 minute taxi ride took 1 1/2 hours. I was rather delirious by the time we arrived. And very ready for a nap. The girls were exceptionally well rested and ready to party it up. Megan totally saved me.
The girls were AMAZING. No, really. I know they are my kids. And I know everyone thinks their own kids are awesome. But seriously. I was a bit anxious about the whole journey. I played out every imaginable scenario in my mind to try and figure out what I would do if my two year old darted off and snuck onto a plane to Abu Dhadi and simultaneously Lilian had a massive blow out while attached to me and we both were completely covered in poop. I think I was prepared to handle anything the kids, the FAA, or the airline might throw at me. But it was so easy. Despite that I probably gave myself an ulcer in the days leading up to our travels, the girls made me look like SuperMommy! You could see the not-at-all-pleased looks of airline employees, security checkers, flight attendants, and other passengers as they saw me coming with two little ones all by myself. But we had won them all over by the time we walked away and received so many compliments.
I talked to Gabriela a lot in the couple days leading up to our trip and told her all about what we were going to do and how she was really going to have to follow directions well. Our daily prayers included a request for easy flights, for Gabriela and Lilian to behave themselves, and for Mamãe to have lots and lots of patience and stamina. And oh how blessed we were!
Gabriela, who is basically a good kid, but is only two and doesn't always mind perfectly, did everything I asked her to do. The first time I asked. And never once complained. Never once whined. Never once cried (except for at the very end of our final flight when she really wanted to look out the window and I told her she had to sit down and buckle up, but it lasted less than 20 seconds).
Lilian was a total champ. She was so easy going and content. She is crawling and cruising like crazy and hates to be contained right now, so I was sure she'd have a hard time with having to sit in her carseat for such long stretches of time. She was lacking in the sleep department by the end of it all, but, same as Gabs, never whined or cried. At all!
There was one moment on the overnight flight at about 4:00 am when I looked over at my two sleeping beauties and got totally teary-eyed. Not really like me at all, but I was so overwhelmed with how well behaved they had both been despite missing naps and being rushed around and being confined to carseats and told they must be quiet. I think it was partially just the exhaustion setting in (as I hadn't had much sleep the night before either with all the last minute preparations for the trip), but I seriously had to stop looking over at the angelic children beside me for fear of starting the waterworks. Plus, I didn't want to get too attached to that idea of my children...I knew it wouldn't last forever and didn't want to be disappointed when they returned to their normal ornery selves later on. haha
I also decided that patience is a lot easier to come by when your kids are behaving. I try to be a calm, patient person on a daily basis, especially when it comes to dealing with the babes. And while I usually succeed and have a cool exterior, I am often boiling over on the inside. I was 100% calm and easy going throughout the whole adventure. That was kind of nice. :)
Eric arrived in Brasil about 13 hours after we did. He was a brave soul as he recounted how he hung out in the Admirals Lounge eating free sushi and drinking free wine and how lovely it was when got upgraded for free to First Class on two of his flights. (He has earned quite the status on American Airlines with all this traveling he's been doing the last year!) Luckily I had taken a nap before he arrived and was able to maintain that earlier calm and restrain myself from strangling him with the strap of one of the two carseats I hauled across a continent by myself with two children.
It's been nice to see my hubby and to not be out-numbered by my kids. After moving out of Megan's apartment and to our hotel on Saturday morning, we enjoyed a low key weekend with a couple different friends. It feels good to be here -even if it is unseasonably cool at the moment.
And after the great trip down here, I've decided to keep my kids. About Day 10 alone with them back home last week, I was considering selling them to the Gypsies.
Oh now, you know I'm only kidding.
I might have locked myself in the bathroom for 10 minutes of peace though. Okay, so it was 15 minutes. If it makes you feel better I did pay for it later. Do you know how big of a mess unsupervised children will make in 15 minutes?
Friday, August 12, 2011
The girls and I spent Sunday-Thursday in Kansas City, Kansas with my dad. He was attending a conference over there. We decided that 5 hours is a heck of a lot closer than 14, so we made the journey over to visit with him.
When Grandpa wasn't in meetings, we go tto hang out and play tourists. We went to the Kansas City Zoo, the Kansas City Children's Museum, the Agricultural Hall of Fame, and Harry Truman's home in Independence, Missouri. The girls and I had a good time with Grandpa (or BaPAAAAAW as Gabriela calls him) for sure!
Who had more fun in the water room at the Children's Musuem, Gabriela?
I made it a point to regularly loudly say things like, "Lilian, you can sit over there next to GRANDPA, and Gabs can sit with me." Dad and I noticed we got lots of looks when we were together...I used to get the same looks back when I was in college and he'd take me to supper anytime he was in Athens for a meeting. Back then I could just call him Dad and straighten out any confusion. Unfortunately, when there are two young children involved, me calling him "Dad" just seems to make people think he is the father of the babies. And that I am a major gold digger.
Along those lines, I think my Dad got a good reminder of why 50-somethings don't normally have babies. Gabriela's super-human energy wears him out just a little (he seemed more ready for naptime each day than she did! hehe) and Lilian always surprised him with her go-go-gadget-arms that can reach anything she isn't supposed to have. There is no doubt he enjoys his grandbabies...but I do get the feeling that he, like most grandparents, appreciates that he gets to send 'em home when he's done with 'em! :) (Too bad you have to actually raise your own kids before you get to enjoy that benefit...it's just as annoying as that whole having to work 30 years before you're allowed to retire. Why do old folks get to have all the fun?!? hehe)
We got back to Burlington in time for a friend's 5th Birthday Party (a pool party) yesterday afternoon. After returning home from that last night, more than a little exhausted after 5 days without Papai and a 5+ hour solo journey with the kids, I was harassing Eric about not having the garden picked, flowers watered, yard mowed, or laundry done. I might have gently suggested that had he left me alone with no children for 4 nights I could accomplish all kinds of things...I might have even gone so far as to suggest that he give me the opportunity to prove it. ;) He urged me to go into the storage room in the basement before I said anymore. Which is where I noticed he had changed out the water heater.
The water heater was on our to-do list as our old one was a little undersized and we recently came across a large high efficiency model on clearance and, with the available tax-credit and energy company rebate, it was only going to cost us $75 out of pocket for the upgrade. It's a natural gas unit and the existing water heater was completely hard-plumbed with copper pipe, so we knew it was going to be a quite time-consuming undertaking. Which it was, I am told. Turns out he didn't just goof off while we were away. I spent the remainder of the night apologizing and thanking Eric for getting it done solo. I plan on some serious relaxing in the jacuzzi tub with a glass of wine this weekend now that we have a water heater capable of filling it up!
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
The broad scope of my interests continued in college, not only in my extra-curricular, but also with my major work. Which might have had a little something to do with the six years and countless credit hours...but that's another story we won't take on today (or probably ever).
All that has made me, what I consider to be, a pretty darn well-rounded individual. I know a good bit about a lot and have a very unique set of experiences. I've changed the lower element in an electric water heater by myself. I've made my own wedding cake. I've designed and installed a complete landscape. I've sewn my own formal gown. There are a ton of things I enjoy doing and learning about. What my Renaissance soul has not been useful with, however, is being passionate.
I witnessed my older brother, Travis, pick up a guitar in high school and teach himself to be an awesome player; 15 years later, he can still be seen rocking out in establishments around Statesboro with his band, Dirty Uncle Bob. I watched as my middle brother, Justin, built a log cabin all on his own (using only hand tools) with trees he cut down himself and have seen the him make incredibly intricate wooden creations. They both are incredibly passionate about their hobby (which also sort of turned into a major and then career for Justin). I've always been a bit envious of them in that regard. And it's not that I think I'm not good at anything, but I've never been really awesome at any one particular pursuit. I've never been totally focused and consumed with one specific interest.
But after 29 years, I have found a passion. Something that I want to learn everything possible about. Something that amazes me, that inspires me, that brings me an immeasurable amount of joy. For the last 18 months, every book I've read has been about pregnancy, birth, or babies. I've attend classes, workshops, online discussions, and community programs about birth.
I love being pregnant. I love giving birth. I love newborns. Eric tells me we cannot have 20 babies of our own. He's pretty firm on the no more than a dozen thing. ;)
So I've found that the next best thing to having the experience over and over again myself is being involved with other families and witnessing the miracle of a new life entering the world and watching as two people's lives are transformed as they become parents. My work this year as a birth doula has been incredible. And it is nearly impossible to put into words how much I adore what I am doing.
My main priority remains my family and our home. As long as we have young kids at home, I will limit the number of clients I take on and how many classes I teach. It's fun to have a hobby I'm truly passionate about though. (And making a little play money with it isn't all bad either.)
I have a real business now (Mãe Amor Birth Services). And a real website (http://www.burlingtonbirth.com/). My doula certification is caught up in a backlog and waiting to go before the review committee. But I did receive my HypnoBirthing Practitioner certification last month and will be teaching my first official class beginning in a couple weeks.
Business is good. The girls are growing and doing great. Life is truly grand.
I'll try to be around here a little more often to tell you all about it!
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Well, I would be remiss if I didn't break the blog silence to tell you my husband is genius.
After a long winter in a friend's shed, moving the boat to our garage late this spring so we could work on it, finally getting one evening to run/diagnose the engine with two friends from work plus his multimeter and infrared thermometer, hypothesizing the problem was a bad resistor, ordering a $20 resistor, finally getting an afternoon to install said resistor, and Eric being the ultimate pessimist as we pulled the boat into the driveway to put it on the muffs and give it a shot...
The engine fired right up and ran for over 20 minutes, no problem. (It previously was dying after about 10 minutes.)
Always the ever so cautious optimist, I suggested we haul it over to Lake Geode and take it out on the water when the girls woke up from their afternoon nap. (Once and for all proving my unwavering confidence in my husband's mechanical abilities...not to mention his proven capacity to row that sucker back to the dock on his own.)
After an hour and a half of zipping around the lake Sunday afternoon, I would like to officially commend my dear hubby on a job well done. Gabriela was over the top excited to drive the "vroom vroom agua" (her name for the boat) and be out on the water. Lilian was happy too, so long as I kept feeding her a steady stream of Cheerios - that kid seriously eats nonstop now!
I think it's awesome that for a mere $21.14, the boat, whose previous owner spent hundreds trying to solve the engine issue and ultimately gave up and sold the boat for next to nothing, is fixed. Eric is still complaining that it was ridiculous to pay that much for a resistor and piece of wire which probably cost all of 75 cents to manufacture. Sometimes I have a hard time getting that guy to focus on the big picture.
Monday, January 31, 2011
So how might one know that the gentleman was not wearing underwear, you ask? Well, I really wish I couldn't answer that. As it is, unfortunately, I can. Imagine if you will:
-A man sitting in the usual knees sprawled out fashion that men seem to like to assume.
-A rip in the crotch of a pair of pants.
-One of his, um, hmmm, well, "boys" hanging out. Way out.
One can only assume no undergarments are involved.
I shudder a little just recounting the experience. I may be scarred for life. There are just some things no one should ever see. I can assure you that this qualifies.
At some point during his meal, he must have felt a little cool breeze where one usually doesn't get a draft. When we left, after I spent the rest of our lunch refusing to look up from my plate, I noticed the poor guy had moved across the table to sit with his back to the rest of the restaurant patrons. And he was now sitting with his legs crossed.
Eric thinks the guy, whether he stumbled onto the idea accidentally or not, discovered a fantastic way to stay cool and comfortable. I, for one, am going to have to disagree!
Friday, January 28, 2011
Night time (and some day time) temperatures are in the single digits (F).
Snow boots are required every time I step out to get the mail.
My skin most closely resembles the color of Elmer's School Glue.
The girls and I are mildly cranky as our Vitamin D stores are quickly depleting.
My sleepwear currently consists of oh-so-sexy flannel pajama pants, a long sleeve t-shirt, and socks.
Lilian has a passport. And a Brasilian Visa.
I have a whole bunch of frequent flyer miles.
Eric needs to go down to Brasil for a couple weeks with work.
It's warm there. And sunny.
There is talk of a giant blizzard heading towards Iowa.
Eric recognizes that leaving me behind with two babies in a blizzard while he is in the tropics would be a bad idea. Very bad idea.
So tomorrow, we're going to Brasil! YAY!
We'll be in Belo Horizonte January 30-February 11 and then tack on a personal trip to Rio de Janeiro for a long weekend with friends there February 11-14. Next year, he's going to have a hard time topping Valentine's Day in Rio. :)
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Oh My Little LiliBelle,
A month of tickles and giggles, beach and family. Long hours in the car and attempting to get you and Gabriela on matching nap schedules. What fun we've had the fourth month of your life!
After spending the better part of your existence crying every time your big sister bumps you, you've finally come around are just beginning to think that maybe she isn't so bad. You still have your moments, but for the most part the drama is subsiding. And that's sort of nice. Not that you haven't been a good baby...you're actually incredibly laid back and totally chill most of the time. But up until now you have been a little on the prissy side about the trying-to-be-careful-but-actually-sort-of rough treatment received from Gabs.
You have gotten quite ticklish on your thighs and neck and squirm and giggle with delight when we tickle you. You love to be read to and we laugh that the best way to make you happy is to make you the center of attention. Anytime you get a little fussy, all it takes is someone looking your direction and speaking to you and you immediately light up and smile and coo.
Your 4-month well-child visit is going to be just before you turn 5 months old, so I don't have official stats. According to my at-home measurements though, you're 24.75 inches long (50th percentile) and 12.2 pounds (15th percentile). You wear 3-6 month clothes (most of the 3 month stuff is short on you now) and, when you use disposable diapers, you're in Pampers size 1-2.
Our days have more giggles and smiles because of you! We love you very, very much!
Eu te amo, princesinha!
Saturday, January 22, 2011
I think that a lot of times consignment shops are over-priced for my kind of shopping. When I can buy new at Kohl's or Younkers for 60-90% off, then I refuse to pay more than that for used. But, when a consignment shop has a sale...oh boy, the deals can be fantastic!
Stuff Etc. in Coralville, Iowa had their annual 1/2-off sale, so I had to hit it up! I came away with quite a bit for the girls (mostly Gabriela):
3 pairs of pants
3 medium-lightweight jackets
2 heavy winter coats (one for each girl for next year)
1 pink peacoat
The grand total of all 25 pieces was just $58.51!
The store was packed, and I thought it might be easiest to shop without "company". So I sent Eric and the girls down the road to a home and farm store (you can imagine how much Eric protested) while I hit up the sales.
Once we got home, Gabs was pretty excited to unload the goodies!
Friday, January 21, 2011
Seriously kid, the cuteness is killing me. As is the toddler orneriness! The last three months have been a bit of a blur as we settled into a routine with Lilian part of our days too now. We've managed to, well, manage and have gotten quite comfortable as a little family of four. And you, our little entertainer, kisser, and get-into-everything-er, have kept us on our toes and made the days an awful lot of fun!
I should mention that you got your first taste of sweets over the holidays. You had a sucker at Halloween which was your first piece of candy. But at Christmas your Momo, with whom you decided you should stay close to at all times, was regularly handing you cookies and chocolates. We caught her most of the time, but you did sneak off with some of the good stuff without us noticing. (And we might not have known if it weren't for the crumbs on your shirt or chocolate on your face.) You also asked for ice cream for the first time while we were in Florida - so we gave you a few bites of ours and, as expected, you loved it! Some things you just don't like sweet though. I gave you some of my sweetened vanilla yogurt with your Grape-Nuts since I was all out of your plain stuff the other day - you hated it and handed me the bowl right back with a disgusted look on your face!
On the vocabulary-front, you've added "I love you" to your sign repertoire. Your new words the last three months have included, água (water), uh-oh (which you picked up from your cousin Hannah and quickly became a favorite), ah-gee (for ajuda/help), Papa (which you have used for both Grandpa and Papa), and Pa-pai (always whispered, unlike Ma-Ma which is always yelled). You are jabbering all the time now and try to repeat things we ask you to try saying. Most of what you say seems pretty random and unintelligible to us still. You do have about three different sentences you use quite regularly though - I just have no idea what they mean! They're rather long phrases and you say them the exact same way each time and with a lot of conviction, so I know you're trying to purposely communicate. Besides Portuguese, which you understand pretty much 100% of what we tell you/ask you to do, you're understanding a lot more English now after spending so much time with family over the holidays. It's a lot of fun to watch your language develop!
It has been fun watching you play with other kids. Unlike most toddlers your age who seem to want to parallel play, you always at least try to play with the other kids first. You love to give toys to others, but you're a little confused when they don't give you something in exchange or hand back whatever you just gave them. Your sharing isn't exactly self-less at this stage! :) You had a total blast playing with your cousins in Florida and spent hours playing 'beauty shop' with Hannah. Your newest obsession at home now is playing dress-up. You spend much of your day in other people's shoes, putting on hats, and coming up with interesting outfits (like the day I got you up from your nap and found you shirtless but still wearing your jeans...along with a swimsuit cover-up skirt.)
You are active, active, active and people are always commenting on how you never seem to wear-out. You go pretty much nonstop except for when we put you down for your naps (still 2 a day, each about 1 1/2 hours) and for bed at night. You love music and dancing and have recently started to put your head on the floor and flip yourself over. I'm thinking dance or gymnastics classes are in your very near future!
You keep getting taller and taller, but aren't putting on a lot of pounds. You are 33.5 inches tall now (75th percentile) and 23 pounds (15th percentile). 24 month/2T clothes fit you best (although usually a bit large in the waist) and you wear a size 5 shoe.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
6-year old Madison had a 2 1/2' tall shadow throughout our visit - Gabriela loved tagging behind her. Madison seemed to equally enjoy the opportunity to be the "babysitter". I love this picture taken through the tank during our visit to an aquarium.
We weren't sure if Gabriela would be interested in the "touch tank" creatures or not. She jumped right up there and wanted to hold everything though. Including this sea urchin!
After our hike we drive down to West Palm Beach and checked out the downtown area. We ate at an awesome pizza place with giant slices and great prices. I really only show this picture to illustrate how giant the slices were (for reference, that is a 6" sub on the far left side of the picture). And to mention that Gabriela ate MY ENTIRE SLICE!
Saturday, January 1, 2011
We scored a room at Hotel Riu Florida Beach for $109 using Hotwire. The room itself was nothing special, but it was beachfront and had an awesome heated pool. It was easily worth twice what we paid just on account of the location and pool!
We were impressed with how gorgeous the sand and water is at Miami Beach. After visiting some really incredible beaches in Brasil, we weren't sure how Miami would compare. The water was clear and a brilliant blue and the sand was perfect. We would have a preferred a slightly warmer, slightly less cloudy day so we could enjoy the water, but we had fun playing in the sand and taking in the scenery. And in all honesty, coming from Iowa in December, we weren't going to be real picky about the weather!
While playing on the beach, we even got a little reminder of Brasil as a plane flew overhead with a banner streaming behind it advertising Leblon Caipirinhas. How totally random is that?!?
Gabriela had a complete blast playing in the sand. She really wanted to get in the water too, but it was definitely a bit chilly for that. She and Eric built all kinds of sand creations while I laid out and tried to combat my intense whiteness a bit.
Lilian spent pretty much all her beach time napping in the beach tent. She sort of reminded me of her big sister at that age. There's no telling how many hours Gabs spent playing/napping in that tent during her first 8 months of life! (Long sleeves were rarely required in Brasil though!)