Friday, December 30, 2011

Pete is 2!

Any birthday that starts out with a bag of Cheetos, is bound to be a good birthday...

This child loves a Cheeto. I have a hard time saying no to him on an average day, but when he saunters into the commissary at the Embassy, walks right up to the chip aisle, grabs a bag of crunchy Cheetos, "want deeze." If I don't indulge his immediate request to "open dis," he takes it right to the nice Brazilian man at the register, slides it up on the counter on his tippy toes and patiently waits to be rung up...on Daddy's account. "Tanks!"

Today I didn't even bother saying "no." So he walked out through the mailrooms and embassy offices gathering "oohs and awes" from everyone we met as Tiny Pete and his giant bag of Cheetos crunched and munched their way down the halls with orange fingers and orange lips. Today he munched right out to the car, where we ended with a Cheetos tailgating party just Pete, Sam and I.

We had lunch with Paul and we played and laughed all day. We drove by the only two trains in Brazil near us at a local gas station and out of our way over the "big big bridge" all in the name of Pete's big day.

For dinner I took the boys to Pizza Hut, where we met Paul after work, then wandered over to a local frozen yogurt spot for triple toppings: gummy bears, "marsh!" (marshmallows) and "choca cheeps!" (chocolate chips). I brought the candle, but no fire. To be honest, this child requires no fire. Pete ate all the toppings, Sam the yogurt, and we took a hundred silly pictures, here are just a few:

Sweet Sweet Pete,

Your intensity is matched only by your intoxicating lovability. You are the Yin to your very own Yang. You are caught (I wish forever) between a baby and a boy. Wanting to do everything Sam can do...only with "Pah-zee and Blanks" as your sidekicks for comfort and reassurance. You are strong willed and soft hearted. You are smart, so smart. There isn't a word or sentence you can't say. You can count to ten, you know all your colors and you are learning your letters right alongside "Broder Sam," even though you are just half his age. Like a tiny puppy, you win the hearts of everyone you meet with just a glance. You are curious, kind and soft. You still have the most angel soft hair in the world, the sweetest baby doll face and matching sparkling eyes to "Dah-dee," but you are mama's boy and for each ounce of comfort I might give you when you snuggle in next to me, you give me ten times more.

I love you Foosi-Fee. Happy Second Birthday!



Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Baby Names

We were undecided...until I walked in the kitchen and saw that Paul had spelled out his first choice girl name, along-side the boys names and it has a certain ring to it!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Favorite Spot: Brasilia, Brazil

Once upon a weekend outing we stumbled upon this diamond in the rough, that instantly became a family favorite. A chocolateria and cafe in Asa Sul, that serves the most decadent cappuccino and if you ask the boys...the best hot chocolate.

We stake out our spot, being always too late for breakfast and way too early for lunch by Brazilian standards, in the tiny, shady patio area.

The boys grab the bench seat that gives them room to roam and we order up our cappuccino longo and a warm croissant sandwich with ham and cheese to share. We peruse magazines, or books we've brought along and sip our thick and rich, cappuccinos exchanging glances of guilt, "These are just so good, they can't be legal?"

After we've finished our brunch, we head inside for a feast for our eyes and though we typically have no room left for chocolate, they have the most beautiful display of hand-made truffles, chocolates and cakes piled with shaved chocolate. We do occasionally splurge on a neatly wrapped box of milk chocolate race cars to share on the drive home.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Sam is 4!

Pause ||

Rewind <

Stop Time .

Today my biggest littlest boy turned four. I was ok with it, more ok than I was with one or even two or three...until I sat down and began to peruse past birthday photos. A necessary evil to remind ones self to slow down, not get caught up in the rat race and enjoy every second of their childhood. It is going by so quickly. It seems like yesterday that the baby in my belly was Sam and that Paul and I ventured to the hospital for the first time to meet our son. The moment he emerged is still fresh in my mind and I will never forget his warm little body in my arms instead of me. My life changed forever, in the best possible way.


You are four today and more of a man than I had ever imagined four would be. You are so smart and articulate, you are thoughtful and creative, you are precise and you amaze me every day. You love maps and trains like your Granddad and you love building and creating like dad and me. You have my photographic memory already and it never steers you wrong. You are passionate, so passionate sweet boy and don't ever let that go. You are so like me in so many ways and you show my pieces of myself each day for better and for worse and for both I am thankful. You are so like your Dad and becoming more so every day, from the "fuzz" on your legs to the sparkle in your eyes. You are the best brother and quickly learning to be a wonderful friend and these are the most important things you could ever be. Your imagination and careful planning of each coming day make your love for your soon to arrive baby sister infinitely greater than I could have even imagined during a time that is so hard for even adults to visualize. I hope that she and Peter will be your most cherished gifts each birthday for the rest of your life and you theirs.

You are so loved. So loved.

Happy Birthday my sweet boy.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

It isn't hard to see why it feels so right to be here in Brazil tonight, but it isn't hard to feel so far away from our home(s) and families either. We spent the second Christmas Eve in a row with our dearest friends Morgan and Phill, Phin and Simon tonight, whom we only just celebrated our one year of knowing with. And while we haven't found a church to attend yet here in Brasilia and will most likely watch the Jupiter First Church service on the intranet tomorrow, it isn't hard to feel the essence of Christmas or be reminded of the goodness of new beginnings or to cherish all the gifts we have in our lives. A sharp pinch is in order to believe it is all true.

In a discussion of family traditions tonight I realized that it isn't about what you do, more importantly who you spend Christmas with and as long as we are in the company of family and friends we'll never be without traditions no matter how frequently our home and horizons change.

"Dear Santa..."

"Fork over the loot!"

Sam adds a custom Santa portrait and signs off...(Petey, camera left) breaks down from exhaustion beneath the tree)

Then the "elves" set to work...

After what seemed like was hours we finally wrapped and assembled all our gifts and are just now hitting the not so Christmas eve anymore as it is 12:38am...MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Friday, December 23, 2011


It's beginning to look, and feel, a lot like a Brazilian Christmas! Last year we were just three weeks into our tour here in Brasilia, with none of our worldly possessions and we were like reindeer in the headlights. I don't remember seeing Christmas decorations, or hearing Christmas music, I only remember a small and sparse plastic tree decorated with just the handful of decorations I had packed in my suitcase sitting upon a strangely not-my-style Drexel Heritage pedestal table a lot of words I didn't understand and strange smells and sights assaulting my senses. This year is quite different...

Everywhere we go there are the lights and sounds and scents of Christmas. The things that seemed 'strange and foreign' last year, seem perfectly holiday-like this year. Shelves and shelves of Panettone, piles and baskets of Bacalhau, gas station attendants in Santa hats and angry honking in the grocery store parking lot. It's Christmas any way you slice it...or Feliz Natal.

I was asked to participate in my very first holiday cookie exchange, which is great, seriously... typically I am anti "large gathering of ladies" I have to maintain my street-cred, but I love to bake and I was flattered to be invited to play. I do fancy, but these women were serious and I was thus initiated into the harsh, competitive world of cookie exchanges. I had heard rumor of the cut-throat cookie ladies and I was not to be outdone. I busted out a new fusion recipe of Rum Raisin Oatmeal Sandwich Cookies and threw myself in a tie for first. After a re-vote, I took my very wonderful friend Alison, so I didn't have to hike my apron up and kick any cookie rear.

BSB Cookie Exchange Competitors

My Cookies

The Loot (I told you these women were serious!)

The tiny cookie thief. He made off with four chocolate covered Pao de Mel before I even noticed him there!

7 months of baby girl...and a few dozen cookies.

Our prize, the worlds cutest aprons. Made by our hostess.

As I furiously baked 180 cookies, Paul, accompanied by the most rigid safety team, Pete and Sam headed outside to string up our Christmas lights.

Thankfully our home was already equipped with all the nails for hanging lights, leaving the Cheeto-crunching safety team to merely keep Paul from tumbling off the ladder. Miraculously, everyone survived. We held an official lighting ceremony with our good friends complete with a necessary bit of Clark Griswald family drumroll.

Christmas lights and pitanga trees.

We spent the rest of the evening indulging in a family movie night, complete with Mickey's Christmas, hot cocoa and "kocorn" as Pete calls popcorn.

...and a few blueberry caipirinhas!

Feliz Natal!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Bed Covered With Things Soft and Pink

Most days when I come home from work, the whole family is in the car port to welcome me home. Rarely, do they have pants on. Most days, Pete’s diaper is full and hanging from his crotch like a cow’s udder as he runs around the yard, blissfully unaware. Every day, Sam asks if we got any packages.

Most days the mail does come, we do get packages. Often they are for him. This close to Christmas we have been getting a lot of packages. The only thing is most of them are Christmas presents that he can’t open right there on the spot as he usually does. So, I’ve resorted to having to tell him no packages have come, even if they have, in order to avoid having to explain to him that he can’t open them then and there and has to wait until Christmas. Of course, then I have to watch his shoulders slump in visible disappointment as he trudges away. Hopefully, come Christmas morning, it will all be worth it. I think it will.

After the boys go to bed, I take the garbage out. On the way back to the house, I stop at the car and secretly bring the packages in. We’ve been hiding the boys’ Christmas presents in the guest room, under the bed and in almost plain sight in the closet. A towel covers the end of a giant ‘Thomas the Tank Engine Race from Rumble Mountain’ box that Ma and Grandad sent, because it is sticking out from under the end of the bed. I flick the lights on and hide more packages under the bed.

I pause to look at what’s on top of the bed. The entire queen-sized mattress is covered with things both soft and pink. Every shade of pink imaginable. Tiny pink skirts and pink onesies and pink leggings. There’s even a pink bathing suit. It is a tangible reminder of what—no, who—is coming. And I cannot even imagine what it will be like to have a tiny (“Small, small, small, teeny, weeny, weeny,” as Cranky Crane would teasingly say to Thomas) girl in my arms. Or what it will be like to bounce a tiny girl on top of the water in the swimming pool in her pink bathing suit. I can’t even imagine what she will look like. Like Elise, I hope. I thought my life incredibly blessed before….?!

I touch them and they are soft and perfect…and so small. It reminds me that my life is about to completely change yet again. And that is a good thing.

From the mouths of babes...Part 2 in a continuing series of mouthisms

5:30pm, The Dinner Table

Sam: Maybe Simone could be my best friend.

Dad: Maybe.

Sam (smiling timidly): Maybe.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


a novel by Paul M. Hanna

Today marks a very exciting day for Paul (and I). Today he self published his sci-fi novel, Galatea, to Amazon. Galatea is a piece of Paul's imagination that he has been writing and dreaming on during off hours and late nights, with sleeping newborn babies on his lap, during naps and lunch hours for the past several years.

I have, since we met, poured over his each and every piece of writing, including many short stories, emails and bits of our life read right here on our blog. I beg him to share more, to write more and to keep working towards his dream. Thanks to Paul's confidence and courage and the awesome new ability to bypass unsuspecting secretaries and word-logged publishers, Paul has taken his future into his own hands and for that I am incredibly proud.

To download Galatea, visit

Congratulations Paul!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Schools Out for Summer Ever Winter!

Here in the "SoHem" or Southern Hemisphere to the layperson, summer break works a little differently...because it is in the winter, no dammit it isn't Elise, it really is summer here. Oh ya. Anyway, we're still getting the hang of it, too, thanks to Sam...and his preschool and six weeks of "Christmas Break."

Today was Sam's last day of school and instead of telling you that I baked cookies for the class (which I did, but they looked so bad I said, "Screw it! These kids don't need more sugar anyway!") or even telling you that delicately wrapped a gift for his teacher, whom I love and adore because she loves and adores Sam, or even telling you that I remembered my camera, like I had planned and documented his last day of school with Tia Pati before he moves into the four year old class next year....I will tell you that shamefully, I did none of that. Instead I picked up my boy, who seems to be coming down with a winter cold summer cold, brought him home and laid him beneath the Christmas lights that surround his bedroom window...then passed out for a nap myself. Hey, I just can't be perfect every day.

However, to celebrate the last day of school I have put together a gallery showing of some of my favorite works of art from my talented and passionate boy from his very first, very successful year of school.


(clay and paint)

(clay and pencil)

(crayon on paper)

(pen on computer paper, "Where is all the computer paper going!?")

"Daddy as a spider"
(Crayon on computer paper)

(finger-paint on recycled juice box-canvas)

Collected works of art, made all with recycled household objects. Our favorite is the tin-can monkey, closely followed by the egg carton caterpillar and the yogurt cup ladybug.