Thursday, September 29, 2011

It's a Girl!

We are not only expecting (not yet officially announced here, but you may have read between the lines) in early March of 2012, but much to our delight, we are expecting a baby girl! And what good is our first time ever finding out the sex of one of our babies before birth, without a hilarious story:

Since Paul was a little wishy washy about finding out this time (but ever the most kick ass husband, humored me anyway) I decided to make finding out a little more intimate and special for us than the typical threesome in the darkened ultrasound room. Awkward embraces, trying to avoid a gooey belly, and sharing the moment with a complete stranger. It is all a little odd, which is why we've avoided it. Until now.

With a bit of Paul's sketching and my precision art school folding skills we made this card and asked the ultrasound technician to, "PLEASE not tell us here," "agora." Instead, we would have liked for her to write "menina" or "menino" in the card to take it with us on our trip this weekend and find out together, over dinner, alone (with the rest of the restaurant, and perhaps our waiter, but whatever). Paul reiterated in Portuguese and the tech agreed, emphatically, that she "ALWAYS" writes it down, "no problem!" (Silly Americans)

We proceeded with the exam, measurements, squiggly baby, heartbeat, when suddenly she slams down "the wand" stands up and shouts out before I could muzzle her, "I can say one hundred percent...It is GIRL!"

The soundtrack to my best laid plans: SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEECH to a halt. I look at Paul and say with my eyes, "What the what!?" then we smile. I say "I told you so." Paul says "I told you Hanna's can make girls." I say "thank you for making a girl for me, you rock." I make a strangling motion at the back of the technician's head and then we decide that she is a goof ball and we all strangely embrace. She holds on a little too long to "Paulzinho" (little Paul) as she calls him and we all may or may not have had a group hug. I can't really remember in all the excitement, oddity, miscommunicationness. It was all very Brazilian, none-the-less

So, we saved the fun for Sam, who despite still trying to decipher his colors, was only slightly excited when he opened the card over dinner:

Paul & I: "If it's blue, it's a boy. If it's pink, it's a girl." (Toddler friendly and no, we don't really give a shit about stereotyping. We'll raise strong intelligent and open hearted children with words, actions, and kindness, not with colors.)

Sam [opening the card with buttered noodle fingers]: "Green?! What does it mean?"

Me: "Pink, Sam, pink. You're going to have a baby sister! Isn't that exciting?"

Sam: "Can I have some more noodles, no sauce please and dessert now?"

We are sure he will find the excitement in having a baby sister years when she is bringing her cute friends home.

Until then, I AM ECSTATIC, winning, lottery style. Our little family. Baby sister. Names. Dresses. Tiny fountain sprouts of hair on top of her head. Shopping. Ya Ya Sisterhood weekends. You get the idea.

Paul is excited and nervous, having never had a sister or daughter, but there is no doubt in my mind that she will steal his heart and he hers and they will dance away tiny toes balancing on polished dress shoes...late night feedings, kitchen floors, wedding first dances. Life is good. Really freaking good.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Reincarnation of Bugs, by Sam Hanna:

Today Sam shouted at me from across the yard, "Mom! The giant beetle came back to life and screwed it's head back on! Quick come look!"

Reluctantly, I did. I want to say it was a different beetle than the identical one that had been beheaded and dead in our yard for months, but I can't, I just can't.

We can't say we aren't fostering vivid imaginations around here.

Monday, September 26, 2011

First Rain

Today for the first time in nearly a hundred days the clear blue Brazilian skies opened up and eager raindrops fell into the open arms of my children, myself and to our thirsty backyard. After breakfast we pulled on our rain boots and headed outside to slosh in puddles and twirl our umbrella in the morning drizzle and we marveled at the endurance of the streetlights which remained on until well into the afternoon. Then we loaded in the car to get a final few items we needed at the store to make a celebratory 'breakfast for dinner' and we opened the sunroof to catch drops of rain in our hair as we drove the shiny streets. Peter laughed at regular intervals with each silly swipe of the windshield wipers like he'd never seen them before while we jammed to the "Oh Oh" song now regularly requested and sung by Peter. We selected and were seated (by Sam) in the big window booth atop the hill at the best restaurant in town with views of big trucks on rainy days and shared french fries and happy meals while playing car counting games. The boys took extra long naps while the rain pinged down on our corrugated plastic skylight roofing. The boys played catch in the front yard with Paul still in his suit and tie while I put the finishing touches on our passionfruit, mango smoothies and blueberry french toast casserole. It was the best day in at least a hundred days, I'd say.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Mini-Guys Night Out

The title is apropos in two ways: it was a short guy's night out and it was a guy's night out with mini-guys.

We've been sick all week. All 4 of us. In order to try and give mom a brief respite from the madness and allow her to soak her toes in the healing bubbles of a hot bath, Sam, Pete and I went to the grocery and to get yogurt. Nothing especially memorable or fun about the outing to mention, though it ended up being both memorable and fun. I should leave work at 4 more often.

As Sam polished off his chocolate yogurt with gummy bears in it and Pete meandered around us, occasionally opening his mouth like a baby bird would for a worm--only Pete was in search of a chocolate yogurt-covered gummy bear--the song that came on at the yogurt place was Seu Jorge. It's how Sam learned to say "fim de semana." Speaking of it fim de semana yet? Almost. Thankfully.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Samisms: "Not Almost"

Recently when asked any question that requires a "yes" or "no" answer, Sam responds "not almost!" It's vagueness and ability to strike confusion into our hearts and minds at a time when we are exhausted and just want an answer and is both maddening and hilarious all at once.

"Sam, are you hungry?"

"Not almost!"

Ok then.

"Sam, do you have your pj's on and are you ready for bed?"

"Not. Almost."


"Sam do you love me?"

"Not almost."

Thanks, you too.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Most days I get by with my sad (yet steadily improving) Portuguese. Today, not so much:

Just when you think you can say just about all you need to say to get by doing all the basic things you do everyday, you find yourself needing to say, "What the hell do you mean the urine sample is only good for three hours unrefrigerated? What the hell kind of lab is this, serving warm pao de quieijo, cafezinho and soft (live!) guitar melodies for your wait, but no instructions?" Then you realize that "I need," "I want," "I eat," or "I buy," will distinctly NOT get any of the words across that you need to say and least of all in a tone that says, "I peed in a tiny vial at 6am and hand delivered it to you while juggling it and a toddler and I am very angry." (Ok maybe I did that with my eyes.) That is when I abandon all trying and say in caveman-like statements, through welling tears, "I call. My husband. He has good Portuguese."

I am lucky enough to catch Paul at his desk and unload on him about the bad urine sample, while the nice lady waits, "just 20 minutes too old!" I tell him, "please, tell this lady how mad I am and do not leave out any of my curse words!" I hand lab receptionist number three my cell phone and simply say, "Paulo." I listen to her explain to him the same thing she explained to me, (which I am now sure is God's way of torturing the language student, allowing you to understand nearly everything that is said to you before you can actually say what you want right back) and then I listen to her listen to Paul. Who is no doubt explaining to her using his signature, always diplomatic style, omitting all my curse words, that I am hormonal and pregnant and while urine flows freely and regularly in pregnancy, it does not usually get collected in a tiny vial and hand delivered at a precise hour, from a precise hour. He is then not only good enough in Portuguese to say all of this, but to then, suave enough to convince her to test the urine anyway.

I am totally writing about urine. Yes.

She hands me back the phone, dons a tiny glove, collects my inhumanely tiny urine vial and tells me to have a nice day...or to get effed. Either way. I collect my tiny boy (who has, by the way, been sitting amazingly quietly on the floor by me chanting pao de queijo! pao de queijo!") and storm out. I have no doubt I will be redelivering later in the week.

Brazil = 6,746

Elise = +/- 1


This week Peter started saying his name, which sounds a lot like "Butter" (which obviously is way more awesome than Peter.) Why didn't we think of that? I guess he just didn't look like a butter when he was born. People change, though right? It seems so obvious now....

Seriously this profile really is butter. We make exquisitely profiled babies, Mr. Hanna and I. We do.

FYI: Up until this week, if you asked him who he was, he'd confidently say "Daddy," "Mommy," or just "Nope."

Monday, September 19, 2011


In the past Sam would have stolen Paul's glasses to snap them like a wishbone, now he steals them to strike a pose. I'm certain the next thing he'll be needing for his array of morning finishing accessories, will soon be a pair of glasses "like Daddy." Be careful what you wish for Sam...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Chapter Books and other things I never thought of:

Today I read Sam a couple of chapters out of a new book that was gifted to us by a friend. I thought we were so awesome, Paul and I, reading our kids a thousand picture books a day. Filling their minds with beautiful illustrations and words. Apparently at some point though, you are supposed to 'graduate' to chapter books and we missed the boat, or were about to.

We started reading Sam, Diary of Wimpy Kid when he was about six months old, to save our sanity, but everything since then seemed too heavy. He wasn't quite ready for the creepiness of James and the Giant Peach or the death in Charlottes Web, or maybe we're not ready for that with him. There is already so much of that waiting in the world, that we believe we'd like to let him be three for a bit. Just freaking three.

Then recently the words "chapter books" had been flashing before my eyes like signs from God. I glimpse a friends blog and see "chapter books," I meet a new friend, "chapter books," I splash water in my face and peer into the mirror, "chapter books!" AHHHHH! Where did we go wrong?

We didn't. We're just late bloomers, always have been.

Today a friend gave us the first book in a *neon lights* chapter book *neon lights* series, The Magic Treehouse. Sam and I put Peter down for a nap and curled up on my bed to read "just two chapters." Because that's what we have to say now, not "just two books." Oh my baby is growing up! We began to read and my little boy who usually can't wait to find what is on the next page and scans the images, placing them just so with the story, just gazed out the window, listening, dreaming. No pictures, you see, ok maybe just a few. I wondered how he'd react. Between words and pauses I'd catch a glimpse of him laying back in his dad's spot on our bed a tattered blanket just standing by now, instead of providing comfort, his school uniform shirt still on, imagining himself climbing a giant rope ladder to a magic tree house, meeting a real, live Pteranodon.

We've entered a new stage and shouldn't these stages always be marked by what kind of book you are reading? "Oh sweet, how old is your son?" Me: "He reads chapter books."

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What was the best part about your day?

A family tradition, shared:

Sam: "Going to school."

Peter: "Nigh-Nighs. Moooon!" (Translated: You people, reading me Goodnight Moon as I've requested 15 times today.)

Paul: "Seeing you're beautiful face when I arrived home from work." (I totally made that up, when we engaged in this exercise at the dinner table, Peter was screaming and having to be held while Paul tried to eat. I would assume this was what he wanted to say, though.)

Me: "Watching Sam and Peter spot each other from across the schoolyard and run to each other with open arms and fall over hugging and giggling."

Friday, September 9, 2011


This was what we saw on our drive home last night from a quick outing to buy fabric and an early dinner at McDonalds. By 2:00 a.m. the house was filled with smoke, and Pete woke at 4 crying. Hoping for a breeze to blow some of this out of here, because it won't rain for another month.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Labor Day

The three-day weekend was very welcome. The preceding week had been—by far—the busiest I had to date. Hosting a twenty-six person delegation for a two-day meeting on racial and ethnic equality taught me that no matter how much time I put into planning the logistics, there is simply no accounting for one individual’s (or in this case 26 individuals’) personal eccentricities, “You want to go to the airport three hours ahead of the time we had planned all week for the driver to take you there? ….No problem.” Not the least of my duties was deciphering the buffet at the foreign ministry cafeteria for part of our delegation, “I think that’s pork. Or is it chicken? ‘Com licensa, é frango ou suina?’ He says it’s pork.”

Part of Sam’s reward for having excellent behavior at school Thursday and Friday was to get to go play the driving games at the arcade in Park Shopping, HotZone (pronounced ‘Hot-chee Zonee’). He’s getting uncannily good at handling a virtual stock car.

After both boys completely flipped out at Outback (this is probably either partially or entirely my fault, as I had forgotten to bring distractions for them and we only had one iPhone for that purpose. So while Pete was freaking out, because he had to sit still for more than 30 seconds, Sam was making a stink because his chicken fingers were overly breaded—which I didn’t even know was possible), the actual Labor Day was a dream.

I also flipped out at Outback. My expectations were too high. Not that either boy was uncharacteristically out of control…okay, well, Pete was, in all honesty…but they were both characteristically kids at a sit down restaurant with nothing on TV but soccer. I am slowly coming to the realization that the more I try to control or contain their energy, the more frustrated I become. As soon as I accept that I have no control, everything becomes easier. Now, the best I can hope for is to redirect their energy’s flow, like one attempting to steer the mighty Mississippi.

The boys and I went to Parque da Cidade to run and play on the deserted playground. We came home had lunch, followed by naps. Elise and I Christmas shopped for the boys online, before she went to a photo shoot and I threw the football in the yard with Sam then made dinner. The day was perfectly serene (well, as serene as any day can be with two boys under four), the complete opposite of the preceding day, and I have no explanation for the difference except my expectations of both.

When Sam woke from nap, his upper lip was chapped and hurt bad. After administering lip balm, he insisted on seeing his mother who was lying in bed with a hoodie pulled over head, tinkering on the computer. The three of us laid there while Pete continued to nap in the adjacent room. I told Sam that if he had a mustache, his lip wouldn’t get chapped to which he informed me, “I’m not a Daddy yet.” “How many kids do you want to have when you’re a dad?” He held out his open palm. “Five?!” Elise and I snickered.

Pete never lasts as long at the dinner table as Sam does. He eats four times as much as Sam in one-fourth the time. Though we taught him ‘all done’ in baby sign language, his signal that he is done is to stand up in his high-chair tottering like a Jenga game about to collapse. He wanders around the kitchen or playroom getting into mischief as we spend the next twenty minutes convincing Sam to eat something…anything…with some nutritional value. Last night, Pete, as he is wont to do, pulled a chair up to the counter where we stash wallets, keys and phones, and pulled my wallet down, then proceeded to go through it, littering the kitchen floor with credit cards, business cards and Brazilian bills in various denominations. When Sam was finally done, I went to the bathroom which is a spectator sport these days, all three of us crammed into the bathroom, when a square brown object comes hurtling across my field of vision only to land in the bottom of the bowl directly beneath my stream. Pete had pitched my wallet in the toilet, though he was kind enough to at least empty it of most of its content before doing so.

Sam, “That’s okay, Daddy. That’s okay.”

Thanks, Sam.

As I was preparing bubble baths, Sam told me "You're my favorite Daddy" and lifted up my shirt sleeve to give me a kiss on my tricep then thought better of it. He leaned over to give me a kiss on my cheek, but again demurred. He lifted up my glasses to give me a kiss on the space between my cheek and my lower eyelid before finally kissing me on the forehead. When I asked him why he kissed me there, he said, “The other places have too much hair.”

"Thanks, Booballuh."

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Saturday, September 3, 2011


Fam.liy.moon [FAM-uh-lee-moon]

1. An act of desperation, where a husband and wife (ok and in this case parents/in-laws) take their children/grandchildren with them to a desired location that looks nothing like a "family friendly" location thereby tricking themselves into believing that they have had a romantic getaway even though they were not discharged from their daily (and nightly) parenting rituals and are made to see the romantic vistas through sippy cup lined window sills and hold hands in king-sized beds throughout the woven arms and legs of their sleeping offspring.

2. Heaven

When my parents were in town one of our adventures was to an outlying town about and hour and a half from Brasilia. We packed up the kids and a picnic lunch and made the scenic drive into the colonial town of Pirenopolis. Paul had secured rooms at a local pousada that ordinarily didn't allow children, but made an exception for our mid-week visit. Down a dirt road into what seemed like an alley, we found Divina Pousada. [Que choir of angels]

We spent the afternoon wandering the brightly painted storefronts and winding cobblestone roads and the early evening poolside. The boys swam with Paul, while my Mom and Dad and I sipped Coca-Cola from glass bottles and icy cold Brazilian brews (also in glass bottles, if you must know).

We dined on a candlelit street that was only partially closed to traffic making the inside of the table a test of ones anxiety. Luckily Paul and Dad survived and enjoyed the carne seca to boot.

After a nearly perfect sleep, we showered under rain-head showers (even the boys, who don't typically enjoy showers spent a half an hour singing in the rain). We wandered up to the dining room overlooking sun drenched hills and enjoyed an amazing breakfast, laid out just for us. Baskets of hot pao de quiejo, guava biscuito, house-made jams, a fruit platter, homemade granola, yogurt and steaming brazilian coffee.

We spent a few more colonial streets worth of wandering and taking photos, when Sam declared that he couldn't go on walking and laid across the sidewalk. We reloaded and headed home.

After a failed attempt to hike to Salto Corumba, a lovely waterfall we spotted from the road (which we soon found out was a treacherous Familymoon hike) we retired for water and a little dream moment for my Dad then lead our caravan on back through the dry, rolling Brazilian hills and back home.

For more images from my photo journey of Pirenopolis, visit my photography blog HERE.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Two Paci Day

Paul is working long hours all week and I fill him in on bits and pieces of the day as he text for updates between meetings. Today, I was able to just send this one photo and phrase, "Two Paci Day" to give him a taste of how it all was going.

Pete was desperately searching, crying "Baacee!? Baacee?!" Sam was running backup and they both managed to find one. Pete slipped his in, saw Sam had another and slipped that one in, too. For a moment there was silence.