Monday, April 30, 2012


I was lying on the love seat with my legs propped up on a pillow and my feet flopped over the armrest. I'm not tall, but the love seat is still too short, yet this has been my preferred sleeping spot when Clementine wakes early, so Elise can have a few minutes of grunt-free sleep.

I had been there since 4:45 when Clementine woke for the first time. I heard the patter of little feet. It was still dark outside. Sam peeked down at me over the banister separating the living room from the dining room.

"Can I watch a little bit of TV?" he asks.

"What time is it?"

He disappears, only to repair a few minutes later.


"It's not time to get up yet. Come lay down next to me until it's time to get up." I make room for him, and he reluctantly tucks into the curve of my body on the love seat that didn't fit me alone and now doesn't fit Sam and I together. He stays there for a few minutes--an eternity for him, I'm sure--until it is time to get up, later than S-forty-E, at least.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


For the Secretary’s recent visit to Brasilia I was given my own car and driver. The car was unspectacular, a nondescript black, Toyota or Chevy something-or-other, but the driver wasn’t.

João was from Salvador da Bahia. He lived in Philadelphia where he learned English by riding the bus around the city, listening to commuter talk. He lives in one of the satellite cities of Brasilia where in his free time he teaches music to children. On the recent 32 day (and counting) strike by public school teachers, he lamented that it was not good for children to be “sob a influência negativa” for such a long span. On our first of many rides to President Juscelino Kubitschek International Airport, he taught me the difference between Carioca samba (from Rio) and Bahian samba (from Salvador) by tapping the rhythms on the leather-padded steering wheel.

The highlight of the Secretary’s visit for Sam was the morning João and I drove him to school in “the special car”. Sam felt like a rock star when he pulled up in front of school in his long black car, sitting in the back with his dad, João opening the door for him. It was definitely the highlight of the Secretary’s visit from my perspective, too, eeking out exiting Itamaraty with the Secretary, where we maneuvered over a red carpet, past flash bulbs popping, through a gambit of polearm-wielding sentries plumed with ostrich feathers, and darting for the Mercedes boxer van idling in the motorcade. Yeah, seeing Sam’s smile that morning was definitely better than all that. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

An Afternoon with the Secretary

We've had a lot going on around here, none of which has been blogging.  Sorry. We are enjoying the company of Nanny and recovering from a long couple of weeks without Paul as he prepared to welcome his boss, Hilary Clinton, to Brasilia. In the midst of Celeste filling in as my husband mother-in-law, we were able to pass the boys off to our maid one afternoon and sneak away to the official "Meet & Greet" as the Hanna Lady Trio.

Secretary Clinton gave a lovely speech, I am told, I was frantically searching for Clem's pacifier that had dropped just as the Secretary walked on stage after our two hour wait. I did, moments later, get the pleasure of shaking her hand, yet was fully unprepared to formulate a sentence. I had no expectations of getting anywhere near her after the Obama debacle, but she politely commented "Oh you have a new one!" in regards to a sleeping Clem in my arms. I nodded. It was a really groundbreaking conversation. By the time my sleep-deprived brain kicked in she was gone down the velvet rope. We were honored to have had the opportunity. She looked lovely for those of you that are dying to know.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Good Things

In case you haven't seen this, you should.

Sam and Peter play with toys, sure, but they need help or they lose interest and it most always ends in a fight and often someone takes a wooden Thomas Train to the head. But when we get a shipment of packages they take the extra boxes to our laundry room and they make a train. Rarely does anyone get hurt, rarely do they ask for fact they usually make us stay out and they have hours of fun.

Paul has mentioned before Sam's imaginary theme park here, "Outside Brazil." Never was this idea more possible little boy. Anything is possible with someone who believes in you, good people and imagination....

How Many Squirming Toddlers Does it Take to Get One Baby's Brazilian Birth Certificate?

One might have assumed the hardest part of having a baby in Brazil would be the birth. Oh no! As we would come to find out, the pushing and the actual birth were child’s play compared to officially documenting her arrival with the Brazilian bureaucracy.

Perhaps, I exaggerate. The process needn’t have been complicated except for home births, two witnesses are required to be present when applying for the birth certificate since there is no hospital documentation. No problem. I was well-aware of this requirement and came to the Cadastro prepared. Elise and I had waited until my mom was in town before we applied for Clementine’s birth certificate. Problem solved. We had our second witness.

Only I, as the father, couldn’t be a witness. When asked why I couldn’t be a witness, the only reply I got was that I was the father “mesmo”, or I was the father himself or itself which made no sense to me. I wasn’t trying to overstate my importance in her birth. I readily acknowledge I didn’t do anything except witness. So, how could I not be a witness. This guy was giving me way more credit than I deserved.

After my failure to convince him otherwise—in what, I thought, to be rather suave, convincing Portuguese—Elise got on the wire and tried to find us a witness. Our mid-wife could come but it would take time. So we contacted a good friend who could come. She would have to pry her two kids from the playground to meet us. We would wait.

We had brought Peter who by this time was begging for pão de quiejo. Several giant pão de quiejo later, she would arrive. Our entire party was eight. Eight people for one birth certificate for one baby. Two babies. Two toddlers. Peter, transitioning to big boy underwear, forgot to tell us (or we forgot to remind him) he had to go to the bathroom, and peed in his pants outside the Cadastro. Phinney was sick and lay motionless in the stroller, his legs dangling over the side, seemingly panting for breath, and Clementine started to wake up; we were on the verge of full-blown chaos.

Fortunately, we were able to get out of there in the nick of time, narrowly avoiding disaster. Clementine now has her birth certificate, printed on paper out of a printer; we could have almost done it ourselves. Had we enough witnesses.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


...and now the moment you've all been waiting for:

Monday, April 9, 2012

Baby's First Easter Photo Shoot

Come on like you thought I'd waited this long for a baby girl and not have her Nanny hand deliver a crocheted bunny hat all the way to Brazil from Florida and photograph her in all her adorableness? Impossible. The boys are lucky I didn't attempt it with them.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Dear Future Peter...

...please don't ever stop saying, "Luv you, Daddy." or "Thanks for dessert, Daddy." You have no idea how much power those words hold, the power to make all material worries evaporate, the power to make me want to make endless trips to the kitchen for you for milk or juice, abacaxi or uva. Luv you, Foosa-Fee

My Favorite Bunny

Clementine's arrival has effected us all. No one more so than Sam. Though he loves, adores and dotes on his baby sister, it has been a challenge for me to find time to give him the attention he so desperately craves and deserves. It seemed as though our every waking hour was already consummed by work or parenting before Clementine arrived. The only way to make time for her was to take time from someplace...or someone else.

As I am sure is normal, we have been pulled aside by Sam's teacher, Tia Chris, more in the past week than in the past year combined. Episodes of acting-out too ludicrous to mention here have become the "butt" ('nuff said) of inside jokes rather than cause for severe castigations. A wooden spoon to the tizu is not what he needs right now. And when he comes into our room for the fifth time in so many minutes after lights out in the evening, rather than make threats I know I will never follow through on, I try to give him the only thing he really wants, my undivided attention. Even if that means putting off precious, elusive sleep for a few more minutes.

So, we say prayers and talk about the best part of his day by the light of an illuminated fish tank. We talk about 'Outside Brazil', Sam's imaginary outdoor theme park, a child's fantasy that is mirrored by the reality, not only in our backyard, but all around us here. Pete calls from the adjacent crib, "Daddy, covers!" Eventually, everyone falls asleep sooner or later. Foosa, sooner. Some, Sam, later. One, Clementine, maybe not at all.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Monday, April 2, 2012

All Good Things Must Come to an End

The past two weeks have, almost inarguably, been the best two of my life.

Last night, Elise asked me if I was going to keep writing in this journal after I go back to work. I told her I would try.

All of our waiting has ended. Clementine is here, and India awaits. I do not yet know what I will remember most about the last two weeks, the first two of Clementine’s life.

I drove Sam to school every day and picked him up. Every morning, I would park, help him out of the car and into his back pack. I would walk him to his classroom and hang his backpack on the first hook outside the door. He would hop up and down, hands flapping beside him like an injured bird, chirping, “Kiss and hug! Kiss and hug!”, Tia Cris waiting patiently to receive him. I would bend down and give him and hug and prickly kiss. He would run off to the parquinha, to join his friends already swinging or sliding, but, not quite there, he would remember something, turn around, sprint back to catch me (though I hadn’t gone anywhere, lingering to watch him play).

“Dad,” he would start, “I need to tell you one more thing. Can you tell mom I want a giant, huge sip of milk when I get home out of the huge, tall glass?”

“I’ll tell her,” I reply, enjoying the irony of a giant sip.

I had dreamed of taking Petey for a morning jog everyday, but then Petey got sick, I got exhausted and sleep-deprived, and no one ran. Instead, the four of us, me, Elise, Peter and Clementine visited Vitoria bakery for pão de queijo and fresh-squeezed suco de laranja. We discovered new places. Nothing before us unknown any longer, we dove back into Brazil, searching out unknowns. Elise and I enjoyed a coffee date at Ernesto in Asa Sul, the perfect coffee house. Though Clementine was new, Peter was the one who I got to know better than I did before. He wore underwear everyday and left his pacey in his bed, accomplishments I never would have had the time to be a part of otherwise.

Elise marked the end of two week paternity leave with the most amazing plate of BBQ ribs with a huge, giant bottle of beer. No one could ask for more, and, with Clementine in my lap, I stickied my fingers, as all meals worth remembering forever must be eaten by hand. I know the Turbevilles to enjoy taking pictures of their food. This food was definitely worth photographing for posterity.

As dinner ended, my thoughts inevitably turned toward the next day and how much I didn’t want my paternity leave to end. Though I had napped, I was too tired to enjoy the last few moments which makes me all the more eager, today, to get home and recapture them.

I didn't want them to end, but they did. I tried to fight it, but lost. Frustrated, I yelled. I didn't want it to end this way. I didn't want it to end at all. I didn't want to leave. I miss then already. I secretly yearn for it to be 3:30 a.m. again so Clementine and I can sneak out of our room, leaving Elise to hopefully sleep peacefully for an hour or two before the boys wake, to see the hours piercing the darkness in digital neon-green 4:12 5:48 3:31 2:42. I try to remember the numbers as a game and tell myself that everyday from 4 to 7:45 and again from 5:20 to, who knows, whenever, the next 4 a.m. I get to have paternity leave all over again. Though pulled in yet another direction, and feeling as though there wasn’t enough of me to go around to begin with, I try to remain calm as I know calm is what will keep our ship afloat and our course true.


Memories of the past two weeks should be a blur. After all, the first two weeks with a newborn usually are. Add a sick four year old, a sick two year old, a sick husband and a sick newborn, six trips to the doctor, two and three doses of two different types of antibiotics, one Disney Pixar Cars box of kleenex, one nasal aspirator, three visits from the midwife, two weeks of waiting, one new posting in India and it should closely resemble amnesia.

But for some reason when you get whacked on the head you still see stars.

After Paul returned to work today after his two weeks of paternity leave, all of my are visions through blurry eyed goodbyes are of snuggling in bed with our baby girl, the warm sun shining in our open windows, a single white butterfly flittering above her bassinet just outside our open window. Warm brazilian breezes carrying the sounds of parrots in the trees and neighbor kids frolicking in their pools softly into our room. Long family naps, long conversations about our present and about our future, good meals shared from friends and those pulled together in seconds, taken in no hurry at all. Late nights and early mornings. Dim light from the bathroom oozing softly into our bedroom while I nursed Clementine and Paul waited, softly drifting next to us to wrap her back up and rock her back to sleep. Coffee delivered by my boys in the morning, hot pao de queijo, morning cartoons, Kratz brothers, walks by the lake, breakfasts and coffees in both new and familiar places. Lots of legos, lots of puzzles, lots of love.

I wasn't looking forward to today. I know Paul has to work, but I prefer to live in a land of make believe. One where we could live like this forever. The two of us, tiny soft newborn babies, little boys, nursing in the soft glow of a bathroom light, waking up with nothing to do and no where in particular to go. Days that go on forever, nights that go on forever...without the years that fly by. SO without the years that fly by.

People ask me if I've taken a million pictures of Clementine. "You're a photographer, you must already have a million pictures of her, right?"

I do, but my favorite ones are in my head.

I fail to be able to capture the feeling that coincides with the last two weeks. The first two weeks. Then again the images I have in the rolodex of my mind are far more important than those filed within the folders of my hard drive.

Today I braved life for the first day solo as a mom of three. I am so proud: of my family, of my husband and of myself.

When I approached Paul a little over a year ago about the prospect of adding one more to our posse, he balked at the idea, but being the great man that he is gave me an opportunity to explain my heart before saying no. I recall responding that I just felt like there was someone else out there for us and just like the naming of Clementine, that was the end of that conversation, too.

I think he'd agree now that despite the fear of change and sleepless nights and endless hours of car seat installation, that there was indeed someone else out there for us and neither of us could ever imagine having not taken a chance on Clementine.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Milho Verde Sorvette

Tonight we indulged over a years worth of curiosity and dove head first into a tub of corn ice cream. We'd passed it by in the ice cream section of the grocery one too many times, opting for one of the other of the approximately six flavors that Brazil has to offer, chocolate, abacaxi, creme, coconut, neopolitan, but we had never tested the "Milho Verde," a Brazilian favorite.

When we purchased it the other day and brought it home, we inquired of our maid, Sheyla, if she'd tried it before. She looked at us as if we had asked her if she'd ever tried vanilla ice cream. We tried to cover for our seemingly obvious Americanness by explaining to her that there was "no such thing" as corn ice cream in the US. This left her even more astounded, hand to heart muttering "Meus Deus," one of her favorite phrases.

So tonight we gathered around the kitchen table, adventurous spirits, spoons in hand, excitedly waiting to dig in. I peeled back the lid and Sam took the first bite. Given his particular palette we weren't surprised that he wasn't fond of it, so I dipped in. As I brought the spoon to my mouth I was assaulted by the smell of corn on the cob, delicious when expected. Hoping against hope that it didn't taste like corn on the cob, I continued the journey, spoon to mouth: Corn on the cob substitute butter and salt for a sprinkling of creme and sugar. Paul agreed, Peter refused to even try it after witnessing our reactions and Clementine remained sound asleep on Paul's lap, a tactic she has already learned in just two short weeks to avoid being sucked into our crazy ideas.

Milho Verde Sorvette, meet our garbage can.